(Adds details, background, closing share price)
TOKYO, June 23 Sharp Corp (6753.T) and Kansai
Electric Power Co (9503.T) said on Monday they have agreed to
join forces in a solar power generation project that involves
the construction of two power plants in Sakai, western Japan.
Soaring crude oil prices and growing concerns about climate
change have boosted energy consumers' and producers' interest in
renewable energy such as solar cell and wind power.
Kansai and Sharp, a solar cell maker competing with
Germany's Q-Cells QCEG.DE and China's Suntech Power Holdings
STP.N, plan to build a power generation facility with a
maximum capacity of 18 megawatts at Sharp's manufacturing
complex by March 2011.
Electricity generated by solar cells on plant rooftops will
be consumed within the complex.
Kansai also plans to spend 5 billion yen ($46.6 million) to
build a 10-megawatt solar power plant near the Sharp complex by
March 2012, becoming the first Japanese electric utility to
operate a commercial solar power generation facility that is
connected to a power grid.
The size of investments required for the power generation
facility at Sharp's manufacturing complex has yet to be clear.
But construction costs for the facility should be moderate
since plants in the complex are designed to have solar cells on
their roofs, Sharp Corporate Senior Executive Vice President
Toshishige Hamano told reporters.
Sharp plans to build the Sakai manufacturing complex, which
houses the world's largest liquid crystal display (LCD) panel
plant and the world's biggest solar cell factory, by March 2010.
Prior to the announcement, shares in Sharp closed up 0.8
percent at 1,730 yen, outperforming the Tokyo stock market's
electrical machinery index .IELEC.T, which dipped 0.1 percent.
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Yumi Horie; editing by