There is more bad news for cleantech startups looking for an easy time of it in the solar business. Honda has announced it is entering the solar business and will start shipping from a 27.5 MW plant next year.
Good news perhaps, for the industry overall, further validating that we are in a massive growth period that could bring solar into the mainstream (or else a solar manufacturing bubble). However, probably bad news for solar startups expecting to compete in what is becoming a more and more competitive market for solar panels.
Honda is the first car maker to enter the solar market, with what one report said would be an investment in the US$85 mm range. I’ve been saying for a while that US and European startups need to worry about the major industrials like GE, as well as the Japanese leaders in solar production, closing the window of opportunity for a new startup to build a significant position. Honda now joins the ranks of Kyocera, Mitsubishi Electric, and Sharp as major Japanese industrials leading the solar sector.
All that being said, at 27.5 MW and with no established distribution, Honda has a long way to go to become one of the big boys. By the way, all the notes I could find said that the cells would be non-silicon thin film manufacturing processes. I would be interested if anyone knows what the process is Honda is using, and where it was developed.
Article on Honda For another interesting new solar player, take a look at my previous post on the coming NYSE IPO of China’s Suntech.