Japanese solar-panel manufacturers including Mitsubishi Electric, Toshiba and Showa Shell are expanding capacity to meet long-term growth in demand in the renewable sector, despite concerns over oversupply in the sector.

Mitsubishi plans to raise its annual photovoltaic production capacity by 50MW to 270MW by 2011 and gradually reach an annual capacity of 600MW from a new PV production unit.

The firm also plans to expand its product portfolio by adding monocrystalline silicon PV cells to its existing production of polycrystalline silicon PV modules.

Showa Shell, a Royal Dutch Shell subsidiary, plans to sell 70% of its output outside Japan under the brand name Solar Frontier. The firm also aims to become the world’s largest producer of thin-film photovoltaic panels.

Toshiba has also announced plans to enter the residential solar photovoltaic systems business in Japan and targets a 10% share of the Japanese market by fiscal year 2012.

The global photovoltaic market is expected to grow from 5,550MW in fiscal 2009 to about 8,000MW in fiscal 2012, according to Mitsubishi.

The growth will result from the introduction of new PV-related stimulus programmes in Japan, feed-in-tariff systems spreading in Europe and projected growth in the North American market.