• Kyodo

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Sanyo Electric Co. plans to invest more than ¥10 billion in a new solar cell plant in Kaizuka, Osaka Prefecture, to meet rising global demand, industry sources said Tuesday.

The Osaka-based electronics maker will also increase production of solar cells at a plant in Unnan, Shimane Prefecture, under a plan to boost solar cell production capacity to 600 megawatts from 340 megawatts in the 2010 business year, they said.

Larger rival Panasonic Corp., which has agreed to make Sanyo a subsidiary, aims to expand Sanyo’s solar cell business through its sales network, they said. Panasonic has positioned solar cells as a priority product for future expansion.

The new plant will be built near Sanyo’s solar cell plant in Nishikinohama and produce heterojunction with intrinsic thin layer (HIT) photovoltaic cells, which are more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity, the sources said.

Sanyo earlier founded a joint venture with Nippon Oil Corp. to produce thin-film solar cells that require relatively lower production costs.

Demand for solar cells has been rising mainly in Europe, where programs have been introduced for purchasing surplus electricity generated from solar cells.

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