Japan’s SoftBank, Sharp in solar tie-up

The move comes six months after the telecoms firm embarked on a similar venture targeting Indian renewables.

SoftBank Group, the Tokyo-headquartered telecoms giant, is set to join forces with Osaka-based electronics maker Sharp Corporation to roll out solar power plants in Japan, according to press sources.

A spokesperson for SoftBank told Infrastructure Investor that it plans to set up a company with Sharp through SB Energy, a subsidiary, but stressed that an agreement has yet to be reached. 

It is understood that the joint venture (JV), which will be majority-owned by SB Energy, will be established in December with between JPY100 million (€0.7 million; $0.8 million) and JPY200 million of seed capital.

The new company is expected to become operational early next year. It will start by installing and maintain SoftBank’s solar power plants and will later offer its services to other operators.

SoftBank entered the solar power business in 2011 after the earthquake in Japan and the nuclear disaster that followed awoke Masayoshi Son, its chairman, to the benefits of renewable energy. SB Energy operates solar power plants in some 30 locations nationwide, including plants still under construction. 

In June this year, the group teamed with Indian conglomerate Bharti Enterprises and Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group to launch a JV targeting solar and wind in India. 

Such partnerships are seen as a way for Sharp to support its ailing solar panel business, which has of late been facing fierce competition from Asian rivals.