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Panasonic Energy Invests RM1.84 Billion For Solar Manufacturing Plant In Malaysia

KULIM, March 2 (Bernama) -- Panasonic Energy Malaysia Sdn Bhd, a solar manufacturing company established by Panasonic Corporation, is investing RM1.84 billion for its first fully integrated solar manufacturing base in Malaysia.
Located at the Kulim Hi-Tech Park, the facility will undertake the integrated manufacturing of solar wafers, cells and modules with an estimated annual production capacity of 300 megawatt (MW).
`At our new factory, the entire production process is integrated within a single base. We can reduce costs significantly by cutting down processes and eliminating the transportation process,` Panasonic Group Vice President, Tetsuhiro Maeda said during the groundbreaking ceremony and exchange of land lease agreement here, Friday.
Maeda is in charge of the solar business for Panasonic Energy Company Japan.
Also present at the ceremony was the chairman of Kulim Technology Park Corporation Sdn Bhd, Datuk Ir Amiruddin Hamzah, the president of Energy Company of Panasonic Group, Masato Ito, the Managing Director of Panasonic Asia Pacific, Yorihisa Shiokawa and Managing Director of Panasonic Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Jeff Lee.
Currently, the company`s total global capacity is 600MW from its factories in Japan, Hungary and Mexico.
Construction of the new facility in Kulim will commence immediately with operations starting by December to manufacture Panasonic Heterojunction with Intrinsic Thin-layer (HIT) solar modules.
The plant is expected to employ 1,500 people and has a total built-area of 70,000 square meters.
The products manufactured in Kulim will be sold to all over the world, as well as in Japan.
Maeda said for the last three year, solar panel sales had dropped but not its HIT modules.
`With increasing environment awareness globally and the introduction of subsidy systems as well as a Feed-in Tariff scheme in various countries, the solar market is predicted to grow further,` he added.
Due to this, Maeda said robust demand is expected particularly in the residential sector, the main target area for HIT solar modules.

Direct Express builds RM14.5 mln warehouse at Kulim Hi-Tech Park

KULIM: Direct Express (M) Sdn Bhd (Direct Express) is investing RM14.5 million to build a licensed warehouse at the Kulim Hi-Tech Park (KHTP) here.
The warehouse, covering 31,000 square metre on a 2.5-hectare plot in KHTP, is expected to be ready in September this year.
The ground-breaking ceremony was officiated by the company’s managing director, M. Karupaiya yesterday.
Also present at the event was Kulim Technology Park Corporation (KTPC) president, Muhammad Sobri Othman.
Speaking at a press conference later, Karupaiya said the company planned to provide 60 bonded trucks and 16 prime movers to meet customers’ demand at the park.
“I am happy to say that DB Shenker, the only logistics company at KHTP and that has been in operations since 1995, has agreed to collaborate with us on a win-win basis, to provide services to investors here,” he said.
A retired army warrant officer, Karupaiya, 53, started as a lorry driver and has since built a successful logistics business as a result of his efforts and determination.
Meanwhile, DB Shenker Managing Director, Wolfgang Laabs said Direct Express operations give rise to healthy competition and is beneficial to investors at KHTP.
Earlier in his speech, Muhammad Sobri said KHTP has launched phase four development spanning 160 hectares and is ready to receive bookings. — Bernama

First Panasonic solar plant outside Japan

KULIM: THE first solar manufacturing base in Malaysia for Panasonic Corporation of Japan has been set up at the Kulim Hi-Tech Park.

Panasonic Group vice-president of solar business Tetsuhiro Maeda said: “We chose Malaysia as our base because of the Malaysian government’s cooperation, investment support, good infrastructure and excellent work force quality.”

To be managed by Panasonic Energy Malaysia Sdn Bhd, construction for the new facility will commence immediately and operations are scheduled to start by December to manufacture Panasonic Heterojunction with Intrinsic Thin-layer (HIT) solar modules.

The base will manufacture solar wafers, cells and modules with an estimated annual production capacity of 300MW.

“At present, our total global production capacity is 600MW of HIT products. This new factory will increase our production capacity by 50%, bringing our total to 900MW,” said Maeda at the groundbreaking ceremony and land lease agreement exchange on the manufacturing base with the Kedah state government on Friday.

He added that the new base will strengthen its cost competitiveness, allowing Panasonic to price the products 10% lower than its lowest priced HIT.

“The new facility will reduce cost significantly by cutting down on the processes involved. Previously, wafers are produced in one country and built into cells in Japan. The new factory will see the entire production process from wafer to modules integrated within a single base,” explained Maeda.

Currently the company produces HIT cells only in Japan. Modules are manufactured at local market sites with Japan producing for its own market, Hungary for the European market and Mexico for the North American market.

There are also ingots and wafers facilities in the US.

Panasonic Asia Pacific managing director Yorihisa Shiokawa said: “This is Panasonic’s first solar factory in Asia outside Japan and our first fully integrated solar manufacturing base globally, an end-to-end facility producing all parts of a solar panel including assembly.”

Panasonic Energy Malaysia will export its products primarily to Japan.

The facility has various energy-saving technologies such as a holistic waste water-recycling system that will help reduce 50% of water usage.

While in recent years, many solar industry players have either consolidated or dropped out of business, Panasonic is confident in their product differentiation and target market.

Maeda said: “In the last two years, demand for solar panels has dropped around the world. However, demand for our HIT panels have increased globally. Thus, we believe if we have lower prices for popular HIT modules, we can increase sales.

“In addition, our HIT modules achieved the world’s toplevel conversion efficiency of 23.7% on a laboratory level and 21.6% on a mass production level. We are also targeting the residential market while China-made products, which have caused a glut in the market, targets solar farms and large scale projects.”

Panasonic Corporation, which set up the facility, is investing RM1.84 billion in the base which covers an area of 70,000 sq m and will create 1,500 jobs.

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