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Japanese brands moving to solar technology

20th Dec 2011

A number of major Japanese brands are making the move toward solar photovoltaic (PV) technology, the chief executive officer of the Australian Solar Energy Society (AuSES) observed this week.

John Grimes noted that manufacturers including Sharp, Mitsubishi Electric, Toshiba and Panasonic are among those who are exploring their options when it comes to solar technology.

He identified the move toward building-integrated PV as one of the key themes of a recent solar energy conference in Japan, along with a shift toward storage, battery technology and electric vehicles.

Some 40,000 people were in attendance at the PV Japan 2011 event - and Grimes asserted that Australia and Japan will be exploring avenues of "closer collaboration" when it comes to solar energy.

Grimes was also in Japan to represent Australia at the Photovoltaic Module Quality Assurance Task Force meeting, which has now been held for two years in a row.

"The aim of our participation was to make sure Australian researchers and industry have a say in new global PV module testing standards being developed," he said.

Grimes added that while Japan, Europe and the United States represent the primary testing markets when it comes to silicon PV modules, the emergence of Suntech and other firms have also made China a rising player in this field.

Establishing new testing standards could provide plenty of long-term benefits to the industry, said Grimes, adding that this move could allow stakeholders to make quick assessments of local stresses.

While the standards may be voluntary at first, it is thought that they will be formally adapted over the longer-term.

Earlier this month, Grimes formally welcomed Greg Combet as the new minister for climate change and energy efficiency and minister for industry and innovation.

Grimes asserted that Combets reforms have the potential to "supercharge solar in Australia".

He asserted that the federal government's decision to combine climate change with industry "sends the powerful message that clean energy is absolutely central to Australia's economic future".

Figures from the Australia Solar Energy Society indicate that houses and commercial buildings across Australia have already benefited from the installation of more than 1.2 gigawatts of solar panels.

Furthermore, construction is underway on a number of major solar projects across the country, including Kogan Creek in Queensland and Moree Solar Farm in New South Wales.

Posted by Mike Peacock - solar correspondent

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