Panasonic announced it will exit the solar manufacturing industry within 14 months.
The Japanese brand issued a press release outlining plans to shutter its Malaysian factory, liquidate its Panasonic Solar Energy Malaysia subsidiary, and lay off staff by March 2022.
The manufacture of solar wafers, cells and modules at the company’s domestic fab, in Shimane prefecture, will also cease by the end of the next fiscal year, although no members of the Japanese workforce will be made redundant. Panasonic confirmed the Shimane fab will continue to manufacture inverters, batteries “and other products.”
The company will continue to sell solar modules with its brand, with their manufacture sub-contracted out. The third-party-manufactured products will be sold in Japan after domestic production ceases, Panasonic stated, as is already the case for overseas markets.
The decision to exit solar manufacturing will also prompt photovoltaic R&D activity at the company’s Nishikinohama factory in Kaizuka City, Osaka, to be “downsized,” with “human resources … shifted to other growth areas,” the company added.
Malaysian staff will not be so fortunate, with Panasonic stating it will “support impacted employees with sincerity, providing measures including premium severance payment[s] and outplacement assistance.”
The move comes after Panasonic in August walked away from a projected partnership with Chinese heterojunction module maker GS-Solar which would have seen the Japanese company’s Malaysian operation transferred to the Chinese business and a photovoltaic R&D operation established by the two partners. Having announced the potential tie-up in May 2019, Panasonic abandoned the plan five months ago, stating GS-Solar had missed two deadlines to honor its commitments under the partnership, and reserving the right to take legal action against the Chinese company to recover consequent losses.
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All roads lead to China. The more dollars we send them, for solar panels and other electronics, the stronger they become.
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