History of Kyocera Solar Power
Kyocera began research into solar power technology soon after the first world oil crisis motivated us to find a future source of renewable energy. We pushed ahead with the business unwaveringly, and for more than four decades have continued to supply solar power products across the globe. The solar cells we have shipped to date are in operation all over the world. Even the first solar panels we developed and installed are still working today — demonstrating the long-term reliability of Kyocera’s multicrystalline silicon solar cells.
1975 ~ 1981
- Kyocera begins research
and development of solar cells
Kyocera began developing silicon ribbon crystal solar cells using a technology to draw out a sapphire-substrate ribbon. At the time, a residential solar power system cost more than 50 times today’s price. Supplying solar cells for widespread general use was a distant dream. From the outset we were pressed to dramatically reduce costs.
The oil crisis of 1973 sparked a sharp rise in oil prices. Developed economies that relied heavily on petroleum plunged into chaos from inflation. The event raised global awareness about the limits of global energy resources.
- Kyocera begins product shipments
Kyocera installed solar panels to power a microwave communications station 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) above sea level in Peru. This was Kyocera’s memorable first order for a large solar power generating system.
The Iranian Revolution of 1978 caused a surge in oil prices, which led to the second world oil crisis.
- Shiga Yohkaichi Plant (Japan)
launches full-scale operation
Demand for oil declined after the second world oil crisis, leading to a drop in oil prices. Society’s attraction to solar power as a source of renewable energy faded. Yet Kyocera retained its passion for the business, and established its Yohkaichi Plant in Shiga Prefecture in order to expand. There we began full-scale research, development and manufacturing of solar cells, related products and solar thermal energy equipment, and set out as an integrated producer of solar power generating systems.
1982 ~ 1986
- Kyocera begins mass production of multicrystalline silicon solar cells using the casting method
Kyocera began researching and developing multicrystalline silicon solar cells, convinced that they would surpass silicon ribbon crystal solar cells in productivity and energy conversion efficiency. We established an international business division the same year and began shipments to North America and Europe the next year, quickly expanding our business to a global scale.
- Solar Energy Center established (Chiba, Japan)
Kyocera established its Sakura Solar Energy Center as a hub for the research, development and promotion of solar power. Conveniently located near Narita International Airport — the gateway to Japan — the center introduced Kyocera’s solar power technology and related systems to visitors from all over the world, raising awareness about the importance of solar power.
- Kyocera pioneers mass production of multicrystalline silicon solar cells using the casting method
Having made progress in the research and development of silicon substrates, Kyocera designed original casting equipment and began manufacturing the world’s first mass-produced multicrystalline silicon solar cells using the casting method. This led to substantial reductions in the price of solar panels. Today, this casting method remains the most common process for producing multicrystalline silicon solar cells worldwide.
In 1985 this multilateral agreement was signed to protect the Earth’s ozone layer, and in 1987 the Montreal Protocol was adopted to identify and control the production, consumption and trade of chlorofluorocarbons and other ozone-depleting substances. The two agreements attracted worldwide attention to ozone depletion, which is a contributor to climate change.
1987 ~ 1995
- Kyocera achieves energy conversion efficiency record (15.1%)
Kyocera’s 10x10cm multicrystalline silicon solar cells achieved an energy conversion rate of 15.1%, setting a world record at the time among cells of this type. We have continued to achieve high conversion rates ever since with mass-produced solar cells.
- Kyocera installs Japan’s first grid-connected solar power generating system
In a grid-connected system, the user’s solar power is connected to an electric utility company’s network, allowing the user to sell electricity to, or buy electricity from, the power company. This system, created for the first time in Japan by Kyocera, became the prototype that later led to a vast market for residential solar power generating systems.
The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, also known as the Earth Summit) that took place in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was the largest UN conference in history with an attendance of more than 40,000, including representatives from 172 countries. It produced the Rio Declaration, which outlined principles for a new global partnership toward sustainable development, and Agenda 21, which consisted of a specific action plan. This marked a start toward global efforts in environmental conservation.
- Kyocera launches Japan’s first grid-tied residential solar power generating system
People consume the largest amount of electricity in the smallest unit of society: their homes. Kyocera’s dream since we launched our solar power business was to produce electricity at the site of consumption. And we did just that when we became the first company in Japan to market “grid-tied” residential solar power generating systems, which eliminate the need for storage batteries.
- Kyocera becomes world’s No. 1 producer of solar cells
Kyocera became the No.1 producer of solar cells in the world. In this year, Kyocera also completed its innovative headquarters building in Kyoto, Japan, equipped with a 214-kilowatt solar power system on the southern side and roof.
At the third convention in 1997 (COP 3), UN member states adopted the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, which set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in developed countries by at least 5% between 2008 and 2012 as compared to 1990 levels. This laid the groundwork for efforts toward the common goal of CO2 reduction.
- Kyocera (Tianjin) Solar Energy Co., Ltd. established
With the launch of this manufacturing facility, Kyocera became the first Japanese company to mass-produce solar modules in China.
- Kyocera supplies panels for large-scale solar power plant in Spain
Kyocera supplied panels for a solar power plant that generates 13.8 megawatts of electricity at an enormous 36-hectare site. Known as Planta Solar de Salamanca, the facility incorporates about 70,000 Kyocera solar panels capable of powering some 5,000 homes. The plant itself is designed as a central power generating facility, making it a next-generation power plant capable of producing clean energy.
The World Fair in Aichi, Japan, attracted participation from 121 countries and four international organizations, with visitors numbering some 2.2 million during its 185-day duration. Commonly referred to as “Love the Earth Expo“ in Japan, and featuring the theme of “Nature’s Wisdom,“ the event was memorable for its focus on the Earth’s environment.
© Toyota Motor Corporation 2009
- Kyocera supplies solar panels as optional feature for Toyota Prius
Kyocera’s solar panels were adopted in the solar ventilation system (an optional feature) of Toyota Motor Corporation’s popular Prius hybrid car to utilize solar-generated electricity while the car is parked to power fans, ventilating the inside of the car and moderating rises in temperature.
At the G8 Summit 2007 in Heiligendamm, Germany, leaders agreed to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 in order to address climate change. Japan proposed a long-term vision for creating low-carbon societies called Cool Earth 50, which laid the groundwork for achieving this target as well as ensuring achievement of the goals agreed upon in the Kyoto Protocol.
- Kyocera’s largest facility in Japan, Shiga Yasu Plant, reaches full-scale operation
Kyocera began operation of its largest manufacturing plant complex in Japan. The new Yasu Plant is our second solar cell manufacturing facility with high elemental technologies, following the Yohkaichi Plant. It manufactures mass-produced multicrystalline silicon solar cells with world-class efficiency and conducts research and development of next-generation solar cells.
In July 2008, the town of Toyako on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido hosted the G8 summit, whose central topic was a common issue for humankind: climate change.
- First in the world to pass 'Long-term Sequential Test'
Kyoceras multicrystalline silicon solar modules are the first in the world to pass all "Long-term Sequential Tests" performed by TUV Rheinland Japan Ltd. (headquarters: Germany), a third-party institute that independently evaluates the quality and reliability of solar modules.
2012 ~ present
- Starts sales of Li-ion battery storage units
Designed to meet growing demand in Japan following the March 2011 natural disasters, Kyocera begins sales of a new system that combines solar power generating systems with long-lasting, high-capacity lithium-ion battery storage units. Kyocera also begins sales of a home energy management system (HEMS), which efficiently controls the use of energy in the home.
- Kyocera starts operation of 70MW Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant
On November 1, Kyocera starts operation of a 70-megawatt (MW) solar power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, southern Japan. Covering 1.27 million m2 (equal to approximately 27 professional baseball stadiums), 290,000 solar modules generate enough electricity to power equal to 22,000 average households, and help to offset 25,000 tons of CO2 per year.
- Launch of Floating Solar Power Plants
Through a joint venture with Century Tokyo Leasing, Kyocera launches its first floating solar power plants at three reservoirs in Japan. In total, the plants provide equivalent power for roughly 1,740 average households.
- Recognized as Top Performer in DNV GLs 2016 PV Solar Module Reliability Scorecard
Kyocera was recognized as a top performer for its solar modules across all test categories in the Scorecard by DNV GL (headquarters: Norway), an international provider of independent expert advisory and certification services. The company was the only solar manufacturer to be named as a Top Performer across all tests in both editions (2014 and 2016) of the Scorecard.