Sharp, the biggest maker of solar panels in the world, has just invested 72 billion Yen (~$725 million) into a plant that will make thin film solar cells in Sakai, in the Osaka prefecture. Production of solar panels will start in March of 2010, with an initial annual capacity of 480 megawatts, bringing Sharp's total production to 1 gigawatt.
Sharp claims that by using large-size glass substrates developed in collaboration with Tokyo Electron Ltd they will "dramatically improve production efficiency" and be better able to respond to the extremely fast-growing demand for solar photovoltaic panels. This should help further lower the cost of solar energy. ::Sharp press release See also: ::Sharp Sees Solar Power Costs Halving By 2010, ::Ausra: Solar Power Around the Clock, Enough for 90% of U.S. Grid