Shell Japan to build big solar power panel factory

The Japanese have a growing interest in solar power, it seems. Today Showa Shell Sekiyu, a Japanese subsidiary of Shell, said [JP] it will set up one of the world’s biggest plants for manufacturing solar power panels starting in 2011. Showa Shell Sekiyu is Japan’s fifth biggest oil distributor.

The company said it is willing to invest $940 million into the factory, the location of which is rumored to be either Japan, Europe or the Middle East. Shell will also cooperate with Japanese technology company Ulvac, investing another $66 million to build a research center focusing solely on solar energy .

The yearly power generation capacity of solar panels produced at the Shell factory is planned to be 1,000 megawatts, which is close to that of a nuclear plant. The company already operates a smaller solar panel factory in Southern Japan with a power generation capacity of 20 megawatts a year.