May 22, 2013 - Panasonic Corp. will cease U.S. production of silicon wafers for use in solar cells as it consolidates output at a new plant in Malaysia, the Nikkei reported in its Thursday morning edition.
The company makes silicon ingots at a factory that subsidiary Sanyo Electric Co. brought onstream in the state of Oregon in 2009, and these are processed into thin wafers. The processing work at the facility will be discontinued at the end of next month. Having shut down a plant in California last year, the company will have no processing facilities in the U.S.
Panasonic produces finished solar cells in Japan, Malaysia and Hungary. A Malaysian plant that began operations last December handles wafer processing as well, and it has an annual production capacity of roughly 300,000kw in terms of the power output of solar cells--about a third of the company's overall production. The Malaysian plant has been positioned as an export base because its costs are about 20% lower than elsewhere.