Honda Enters Solar Cell Production Business

In response to growing demand for environmentally friendly energy sources, Honda Motor Company announced last week that it plans to start mass-producing solar cells in 2007. The company plans to build a thin-film solar cell factory on the site of one of its existing auto plants in southwestern Japan.

Honda officials said its solar cells, which it has been testing at more than a dozen facilities in Japan, Thailand and the U.S., are atypical in that they are composed of non-silicon compound materials. “The mass production of Honda’s next-generation solar cell became possible with a new process developed independently by Honda Engineering,” a company spokesperson told reporters.

The new cells reportedly consume half as much energy and generate 50 percent less carbon dioxide during production as compared with traditional silicon-based solar cells. Analysts speculate that Honda may use its solar cells to create hydrogen for use in fuel-cell powered vehicles currently under development. Eventually, the company plans to sell its solar cells for both industrial and residential use.