November 14, 2007 Honda, a name usually associated with all things transport, has opened a new production plant in Kumamoto to supply Japanese homes and businesses with solar cells.

Operated by a wholly-owned subsidiary, Honda Soltec Co., Ltd, the new plant was officially opened by Honda's President and CEO, Mr Takeo Fukui.

Honda currently has 80 distributor locations for solar cells throughout Japan and plans to increase this to 200 during 2008, as well as venturing into export markets.

The plant will reach full production capacity of 27.5 megawatts (an approximation based on 9,000 houses running 3kW systems) by the second quarter next year.

The production of the next-generation thin film solar cells involves the use of a compound of copper, indium, gallium and selenium (CIGS) instead of silicon. According to Honda this reduces the energy needed to make the cells by around 50% over conventional crystal silicon solar cells.