Those who compare the current boom in solar PV technology with the boom-and-bust of solar during the 1970s are beginning to lose credibility. As it becomes more and more apparent that oil, and possibly natural gas prices, are going to remain high, investor enthusiasm in solar tech companies appears increasingly justified. That is, this isn’t just a bubble waiting to burst — this is a serious market going through a historically significant growth spurt; this is a market that’s here to stay.
Now Honda, one of my favourite companies in the world, has announced plans to build a solar-cell manufacturing factory in Japan that will be based on thin film technology (meaning little reliance on silicon, which is in short supply). The company aims to begin selling the product in 2007 and reportedly hopes to sell $40 to $70 million (U.S.) worth of the new solar cells once its factory reaches its 27.5 megawatts output capacity.
By entering the solar market, Honda will put itself in head-to-head competition with Kyocera, Sharp and Mitsubishi for residential and industrial business. It will focus initially on the Japanese market, presumably before expanding to Europe and North America.