* Wrexham solar PV plant running near full capacity
* Sees continuous demand for PV modules in Europe
By Nina Chestney
LONDON, Sept 3 Sharp Energy Solutions Europe
said its solar photovoltaic (PV) factory in Wales had reached
almost full capacity at a time that many solar companies are
shutting or cutting back their European operations.
The plant in Wrexham, with a production capacity of PV
modules totalling 400 megawatts, appears to have survived a
severe cost-cutting programme by its parent company, even while
the European solar industry has suffered from overcapacity,
falling prices and a trade dispute.
"We see continuous demand for photovoltaic modules in
Europe," Peter Thiele, executive vice president at Sharp Energy
Solutions Europe, a subsidiary of Japanese electronics group
Sharp Corp., said on Tuesday in a statement.
Over the past couple of years, many European solar firms
have been suffering from government subsidy cuts due to the
region's economic slowdown and a dispute between the European
Union and China over Chinese solar panel imports.
Sharp said its Wales plant, which started operations in
2004, has been shielded from recent European cutbacks because
its focus in the region has been on the residential installation
market and because it is part of a global electronics company.
The plant also makes microwave ovens, according to the Sharp
"As a result, our business has been less affected by recent
market volatility compared to competitors," Thiele said.
He added that the plant has also been helped by demand for
PV modules from Japan.
While European governments have been cutting back, Japan
last year introduced generous subsidies for solar as it turns to
renewables to replace capacity from nuclear shutdowns in the
aftermath of the Fukushima accident in 2011.
Sharp will continue to expand its solar PV business and is
planning to add products in LED lighting and energy storage over
the next three years, Thiele said.
Last year, Sharp Corp.'s main lenders, the Bank of
Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Mizuho Corporate Bank
, agreed to a 360 billion yen bailout of the firm.
As part of the deal, sources said, Sharp would have to shut
two of its solar panel module plants in Wales and in the United
States and consolidate production at several Japanese sites into
one location, as part of a cost-cutting plan.
A company spokesman could not immediately comment on the
status of Sharp's cost-cutting, including plans for its other PV
plants, including its U.S. plant in Memphis, Tennessee.
(editing by Jane Baird)