Honda Motor Company plans to start mass-producing solar cells in 2007 for the growing environmentally friendly energy source market. The company will build a new factory for the cells on the site of a car plant in Kumamoto prefecture, on the southwestern Japanese island of Kyushu.
Honda hopes to generate annual sales of 5 billion to 8 billion yen ($40 million to $70 million) from the solar cells once the factory’s output reaches full annual capacity of 27.5 megawatts, enough to power about 8,000 households. Competition in the solar cell market includes Kyocera Corp., Sharp Corp. and Mitsubishi Electric Corp.
A spokesperson for Honda did not say when the factory would hit full capacity and declined to disclose the size of the investment, which the Nihon Keizai business daily estimated would be just short of 10 billion yen.
Honda will sell the solar cells for both residential and industrial use. They will be composed of non-silicon materials, consuming half as much energy and generating 50 percent less carbon dioxide during production when compared with conventional solar cells made from silicon.