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Sanyo Electric, Nippon Oil Eyeing Solar Cell JV

Osaka, Sept 30, 2008 (Jiji Press) - Sanyo Electric Co. <6764> and Nippon Oil Corp. <5001> said Tuesday they have started talks to set up a joint venture to make and sell thin-film solar cells, demand of which is expected to grow.

If an agreement is reached, the two companies may launch the new firm in April 2009. The two sides hope to begin mass production of thin-film solar cells, currently being developed by Sanyo, at the joint company in fiscal 2010.

The joint firm should have an initial annual capacity to produce solar cells that can generate a total of at least 50 to 100 megawatts of electricity, Nippon Oil Vice President Ikutoshi Matsumura said.

Demand for thin-film solar cells is expected to grow as their prices are lower than those of the currently popular crystalline silicon-based solar cells.

Sanyo is set to expand crystalline silicon-based cell business on its own, while seeking support from Nippon Oil for the thin-film cell operations, which will require fresh investment.

Sanyo and Nippon Oil set up a joint venture to manufacture home-use fuel cell systems in April this year.

They plan to spend a total of 2 billion yen on the joint firm in fiscal 2008 and 2009 in preparation for the launch of mass production. The joint venture is expected to produce about 10,000 units of the fuel cell system in fiscal 2010.

By Jiji Press, (c) Jiji Press

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