Monday, May 17, 2010
Cope with the decreasing fuel oil consumption
Japan’s domestic fuel oil consumption decreased to less than 200 million kiloliters in 2009 for the first time in 22 years. To cope with the decreasing trend, leading oil distributors are busily occupied with branching out into new business fields related to solar cell. A subsidiary of Nippon Oil is scheduled to increase production of silicon wafers by 17% to 240,000 kilowatts in 2010 over the previous year. This company has a 10% share in the global market of highly-efficient silicon wafers for single-crystal solar cells. It currently produces silicon wafers between 170 and 200 micros, and it will introduce a new technology to produce even thinner silicon wafers using diamond to increase competitive edge. Idemitsu Kosan developed a polycarbonate resin that maintains the same strength even after exposure to sunlight and rain for 3,000 hours. The company plans to sell the newly-developed product as a protection material for relay amplifiers. The market of relay amplifiers is estimated to grow four times in 2013. Cosmo Oil is developing polycrystalline silicone using the low-cost mass production technology called zinc reduction method, and it is scheduled to put the technology into operation in 2012. Showa Shell is building a solar cell production plant with an annual production capacity of 900,000 kilowatts with an investment of about 100 million yen. It is quite natural that the fuel consumption will continue decreasing in Japan due to the fear of prolonged sluggish economy and concerns about environment protection. There is not much time left for oil distributors to develop alternative sources of revenue.