Sharp Solar has revealed that it will be moving its entire solar photovoltaic operation to the UK, expanding on the company’s existing Welsh manufacturing facility. Speaking to the Guardian, the consumer electronic giant announced that it will be moving from its existing Hamburg base to a brand new head office in Wales.
The move forms part of Sharp Solar’s wider strategy to develop a solar centre of excellence in the UK. The Japanese company hopes that the Wrexham manufacturing plant, an extended sales force, laboratory in Oxford and new head offices will allow the company’s solar division to blossom in the UK. The relocation of Sharp Solar comes on the back of news announced in mid-April that Sharp plans to set up a new European headquarters in London.
Currently, the Welsh manufacturing base employs 500 people, producing around 220MW of modules every year, with a total production capacity of 500MW.
The news will come as surprise to many in the industry as, just last November, Sharp Solar spoke to Solar Power Portal to quash rumours that it was planning on shutting down the Wrexham manufacturing plany in face of swingeing feed-in tariff cuts.
The announcement should come as a relief to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, who recently introduced new measures to ensure the long-term stability of the feed-in tariff scheme after a host of fast-track changes has plunged the UK solar industry into disarray. The vote of confidence in the UK solar industry of such a large player should go some way to reassuring the department that its plans will provide a steady, long-term market for solar in the UK.
Andrew Lee, General Manager, Solar UK at Sharp explained that, “the UK solar market has been through a turbulent 18 months but, through innovating and adapting, the UK solar industry is well placed to grow.”
Sharp has been previously using the UK as an education hub for its PV offering with its Sharp Solar Centre in Wrexham, operating since 2010. The centre offers training for installers, information for architects, councils, builders and planners and education for schools.
The Japanese company has also announced a new focus on complete PV-Kit systems which offer complete solutions. The kits consist of PV modules, an inverter and mounting system, fixings, AC and DC isolators, DC cable with connectors, an export meter and warning labels.
Sharp Solar is expected to make an official announcement about the new restructuring plans at this year’s Intersolar EU, taking place in Munich from June 13-15.