TOKYO-Long-time plastics and metals manufacturer Kyocera Corp. is expanding its annual solar module manufacturing capacity to 500 megawatts by early 2011-more than double its current annual capacity-in response to global demand. As part of this effort, Kyocera, which operates manufacturing facilities in Mexico, Europe, Asia and the United States, has secured a number of long-term supply contracts to ensure it has the silicon it needs to support the increase.

According to Tatsumi Maeda, senior managing executive officer of Kyocera Corp., for the past couple of years the company has “endured” a shortage of solar-grade silicon. However, this has prompted the company to find ways to make its products that much more efficient. As a result, Kyocera now holds the world record for energy conversion efficiency in 15-by-15-centimeter polycrystalline silicon solar cells, at 18.5 percent.

“The United States is experiencing phenomenal public interest in, and acceptance of, solar electricity,” says Steve Hill, president of the company’s North American subsidiary, Kyocera Solar Inc. (Scottsdale, AZ). “The majority of Americans want clean energy developed into an affordable, mainstream resource. Kyocera, with its 32-year commitment to this effort, is aggressively adding capacity both at our North American facilities and globally to meet this ever-increasing demand. We are all proud to be a part of the solution to our global climate and energy crisis.”