Dilemma of Social Contribution and Market Competition for Environmental Sustainability: Knowledge Management for Japanese Solar Cell Industry

By Yukihiko Nakata.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

For environmental sustainability to be attained, the steady increase in global greenhouse gas emissions must be reversed. However, in many cases, the cost of electricity produced by sustainable energy sources is higher than that of grid power. Thus, companies face a dilemma between social contribution and business viability in implementing sustainable energy sources. One of the most promising sustainable energy sources is solar energy. The market for solar cells has grown quickly, and the paradigm of global competition in this field shifted after 2004. Nevertheless, the Japanese solar cell industry retained the largest share of the world market. About 70% of the solar cells produced in Japan are exported, and the transportation costs have reduced Japanese competitiveness. Japan thus continues to lose market share, and its efforts to maintain market share are hampered by the lack of growth in its domestic market for solar cells. Japan can not contribute for sustainability for its potential. To clarify the industrial structure of dilemma, I analyzed the architecture of the solar cell industry in comparison with that of the liquid crystal display (LCD) and semiconductor industries. Since the process length for a solar cell is much shorter than that for an LCD and a semiconductor, the unit area value is much lower. This means that the solar cell industry is like “one module” of business architecture in which the structural elements are strongly interconnected. Given this analogy, I can devise a strategy for enhancing the Japanese competitiveness of solar cell industry. First, the Japanese government needs to implement an incentive program for promoting the domestic solar cell market. Second, Japanese solar cell companies need to undertake two initiatives to maintain their advantage based on their core knowledge in the context of integral business architecture. One is vertical integration, from the growth of crystal Si ingots to the fabrication of crystal solar cell systems. The other is research and development of thin film solar cells based on amorphous silicon. Their core knowledge will be enhanced by the integration of diverse knowledge of various materials and various technologies in organization and/or inter-organization.

Keywords: Sustainability, Solar Cell, Architecture, Integral, Modularity

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.125-140. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.561MB).

Prof. Yukihiko Nakata

Professor, Graduate School of Management, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Beppu, Oita, Japan

He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Kobe University, Japan in 1969 and 1971 and Ph.D. of Engineering from Osaka University in 1992. He joined Sharp Corporation, Central Research Laboratories in 1971. He has been engaged in the R&D of electroluminescence (EL) devices, Solar Cells, and Tin Film Transistor for Liquid Crystal Display (LCD). He, then, worked at Sharp Microelectronics Technology as a Deputy General Manager of LCD Group and Sharp Laboratories of America as a Director of LCD at U.S.A. from 1997 to 2000. He worked at the LCD Laboratories, Sharp Corporation, Japan as a Chief Technical Research Fellow from 2000. Also, He worked at Advanced LCD Technologies Development Center Co. Ltd., Yokohama. Then, He joined Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University as a Professor from 2004 to present. He received the Chairman’s Award of Japan Institute of Invention and Innovation as a pioneer of EL.


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