Showa Shell to quadruple solar cell production in Japan

Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K., the Japanese unit of Royal Dutch Shell PLC will build a ¥15 billion plant to make solar-powered cells in Japan, quadrupling its capacity in the process. The company said it plans to construct its second factory in Miyazaki Prefecture to produce solar-powered cells that can collectively generate 60 megawatts annually. Showa Shell wants to tap growing global demand for solar power cells after worldwide cell sales surged 41 percent last year. Showa Shell and domestic rivals are accelerating investment in renewable energy projects as part of efforts to diversify and to compensate for declining demand for oil products in Japan.

The new plant will be adjacent to the company’s existing 20 mw cell plant. The new factory is slated to begin commercial operations in the first half of 2009. The government of Japan has projected domestic oil product demand to decline 1.8 percent annually to March 2012 because of energy-saving measures and the shift to alternative fuels.