Solar Frontier


Solar Frontier KK
Founded2006 as Showa Shell Solar
HeadquartersDaiba Frontier Bldg, 2-3-2, Daiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo 135-8074
Area served
Key people
Shigeaki Kameda
(CEO), Brooks Herring
(Director of International Business)
ProductsSolar panels
ParentShowa Shell Sekiyu

Solar Frontier Kabushiki Kaisha is a Japanese photovoltaic company that develops and manufactures thin film solar cells using CIGS technology. It is a fully owned subsidiary of Showa Shell Sekiyu and located in Minato, Tokyo, Japan. The company was founded in 2006 as Showa Shell Solar, and renamed Solar Frontier in April 2010.[1]


Solar Frontier's parent company Showa Shell Sekiyu had been involved with solar energy since 1978. Production on a commercial scale of crystalline silicon modules for solar cells began in 1983, and research on CIS (copper-indium-selenium) technology began in 1993.[2]

Manufacturing plants

Solar Frontier has manufacturing plants in Miyazaki Prefecture,[3] where it develops and manufactures CIS solar panels, that combine CIGS and CIGSe materials. The company emphasizes the fact that it uses neither cadmium (Cd) nor lead (Pb) for its cells.[4] CIGS technology often uses a thin (< 50 nm) CdS buffer layer, and the semiconductor material of rival CdTe-technology itself contains the toxic cadmium (Cd), while conventional crystalline silicon modules use a lead-containing solder material.[5]

The company's largest plant is located at Kunitomi and has been operating since its soft opening in February, 2011, with a production capacity of close to 1 GW per year (900 MW).[6]

In April 2015, Solar Frontier completed the construction of its fourth production plant, the 150-megawatt Tohoku Plant, in Ōhira, Miyagi Prefecture, which started commercial production in June 2016.[7] The latest CIS line technology includes solar modules with conversion efficiencies of over 15%.[8] When compared to the Kunitomi Plant, the Tohoku Plant requires only two-thirds the investment and manpower per megawatt. It also requires only one-third the time to manufacture a CIS solar panel.[7]

CIS technology

CIS stands for the key ingredients copper, indium and selenium. CIS technology, however, uses a material that is a mixture of a solid solution of CIS (CuInSe) and CGS (CuGaSe) containing the element gallium. Depending on the ratio of CIS and CGS the chemical formula for the resulting CIGS semiconductor material is written as CuInxGa(1-x)Se2, where the value of x can vary from 1 (pure CIS) to 0 (pure CGS). In addition, Solar Frontier's semiconductor also contains sulfur. It is a tetrahedrally bonded semiconductor, with the chalcopyrite crystal structure. The bandgap varies continuously with x from about 1.0 eV (for copper indium selenide) to about 1.7 eV (for copper gallium selenide).[9] Solar Frontier underlines the fact that their CIS modules generate a higher energy yield (kilowatt-hours per kilowatt-peak) in real world conditions than conventional crystalline silicon modules.[8]

See also


  1. ^ Business Week Company Overview of Solar Frontier K.K. Retrieved on September 26, 2012
  2. ^ Solar Frontier About Us Retrieved on October 3, 2012
  3. ^ Solar Frontier Solar Frontier Opens “Miyazaki Solar Park” October 1, 2010 Retrieved on September 26, 2012
  4. ^ "CIS – Ecology". Solar Frontier. Retrieved July 2015. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  5. ^ Werner, Jürgen H. (2 November 2011). "TOXIC SUBSTANCES IN PHOTOVOLTAIC MODULES" (PDF). Institute of Photovoltaics, University of Stuttgart, Germany - The 21st International Photovoltaic Science and Engineering Conference 2011 Fukuoka, Japan. p. 2. Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 September 2014. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  6. ^ Robert Crowe (27 April 2011). "Solar Frontier Opens Largest Thin-film Plant in the World".
  7. ^ a b "Solar Frontier's Tohoku Plant Begins Commercial Production". Solar Frontier. 1 June 2016. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Solar Frontier Completes Construction of the Tohoku Plant". Solar Frontier. 2 April 2015. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  9. ^ Tinoco, T.; Rincón, C.; Quintero, M.; Pérez, G. Sánchez (1991). "Phase Diagram and Optical Energy Gaps for CuInyGa1−ySe2 Alloys". Physica Status Solidi A. 124 (2): 427. Bibcode:1991PSSAR.124..427T. doi:10.1002/pssa.2211240206.