Teaming up with fellow electronics powerhouse Panasonic wasn’t enough for Sanyo Electric (s SANYY). And for Nippon Oil Corp.(s NPOIY), a toe-dip into solar for propelling cargo ships was only the beginning. Today the Japan-based photovoltaic maker and oil distributor launched a 50-50 joint venture to manufacture thin-film solar cells for large-scale power generation.
The companies plan to invest 20 billion yen (about $225 million) building a factory for the venture, called Sanyo Eneos, and begin production by early 2011. They have slated annual production capacity to go from an initial 80 megawatts to 1 gigawatt within five years. Sanyo and Nippon said they plan to double that within a decade.
“We believe thin-film solar panels meet the needs of countries with significant land mass or deserts,” Nippon Oil president Shinji Nishio told AFP today. In other words: Asia, the Middle East, Oceania and — if President Barack Obama’s promised stimulus projects get under way — the United States.