Sharp To Start Mass-Producing Efficient Solar Cells

Back in September, Sharp made headlines when the company showed the world’s most efficient solar cell, a prototype that can convert 42.1% of sunlight into electricity. Yesterday, the company announced it will start mass-producing a new type of solar cell at its Sakai City plant in western Japan, with a total investment of $180 million.

Sharp says its new single crystalline solar cell has a broader light receiving area and achieves an efficiency level of about 17%, about three percentage points higher than in existing models (the plan is to lift this number to 20% “in a few years”). According to big S, their home-use solar cells will be “highly” competitive in terms of cost performance.

The annual production capacity at the factory will stand at 200MW, adding about 20% to Sharp’s total annual solar cell output capacity of 1.07 million kilowatts.

The company expects to ship the first solar cells coming out of Sakai City by March 2011. They will be sold both in Japan and internationally.