Honda Soltec, a subsidiary of Honda Motor Corporation [HMC], has been producing solar panels since 2006, but will be shut down in early 2014.
It seems to me that any company that’s producing electric vehicles, in the interest of truly clean transportation, would have a coinciding interest in solar panels. Take, for example, Tesla Motors and SolarCity, both closely related, and Nissan Motor Company and their working relationship with SunPower. Honda Soltec solar panels could have been the perfect partner for the Honda FIT EV, but it turns out the technology isn’t up to international standards, making it impossible for them to compete.
Honda Soltec solar panels are a unique combination of copper, indium, gallium, and selenium, or CIGS for short, which was originally formulated to take advantage of a wider range of the solar spectrum, making it more effective in varying light conditions. The compound semiconductor CIGS formulation may be more efficient than standard silicon solar panels on cloudy days, but its overall efficiency is just 13%, which is significantly less than some of the standard silicon solar panels on the mass-market.
Unfortunately, because Honda Soltec’s solar panels can’t compete for efficiency, as well as pricing, thanks to flooding from other manufacturers, they will stop manufacturing in Spring 2014. They’ll still accept orders until February, but the company will be dissolved soon after. Honda Kaihatsu, another HMC subsidiary, will continue to service Honda Soltec panels and installations after the company dissolves.
Honda Soltec isn’t the first solar panel manufacturer to go under, whether due to market flooding by Chinese manufacturers or poor technology choices. Sanyo Eneos Solar Company liquidated last year, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has done some major downsizing in its amorphous silicon solar cell plant.
Image © Honda