Sanyo Opens Solar Silicon Factories in Oregon, Mexico

| About: Sanyo Elec (SANYY)

By Ucilia Wang

Sanyo (OTC:SANYY) celebrated the opening of two factories this week: a silicon ingot and wafer in Salem, Ore., and a panel assembly plant in Nuevo Leon, Mexico.

The silicon ingot/wafer factory has begun production and is set to reach its full production capacity of 70 megawatts per year by April next year, the company said.

Sanyo will use the monocrystalline silicon from the factory to produce its HIT solar panels, which wraps amorphous silicon around monocrystalline silicon.

Monocrystalline silicon already is more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity than multicrystalline silicon, though it's also more expensive. Sanyo further boosts a HIT panel's performance by adding amorphous silicon.

The new assembly plant in Mexico will put together the HIT panels. The plant has the capacity to produce 50 megawatts of solar panels per year, the company said. It's the only Sanyo solar panel assembly plant outside of Japan.

Sanyo had 260 megawatts of manufacturing capacity before it completed the two factories. The company hopes to get to 600 megawatts by the end of fiscal 2010 (which ends March 2011).

The company is also teaming up with Nippon Oil to make solar panels that would use a layer of amorphous silicon and a layer of microcrystalline silicon.