Japanese electronics companies, once the big dogs of the global solar panel game, face a growing domestic challenge from aggressive Chinese rivals.

The 4th International Photovoltaic Power Generation Expo, which opened Wednesday at Tokyo Big Sight in the capital’s Koto Ward, drew a large contingent of foreign solar panel makers, including firms from China, Taiwan, the United States and Europe.

The expo, to be held through Friday, is hosting 656 companies, up from 579 last year.

The clout of Chinese makers is readily visible as they set up their booths in a section also occupied by leading Japanese photovoltaic suppliers.

A representative of Suntech Power Holdings Co., the world’s No. 1 producer of solar panels by volume, stressed the durability of the company’s products, saying Suntech guarantees the panels for 25 years.

The representative talked about solar panel maintenance and emphasized how easy it is to install the panels on Japanese homes.

At a nearby booth, Yingli Green Energy Holding Co., ranked third in the world and also from China, tried to raise its profile among Japanese consumers by promoting its sponsorship of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

source: asahi