ITOCHU Announces Investment in inQs, a Solar Cell Manufacturing Venture with World-First Technology

April 4, 2016

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Masahiro Okafuji, President & CEO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) announced today that it has agreed to underwrite a capital increase through private placement by inQs Co., Ltd. (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Tomoko Ito, President; hereinafter “inQs”), a venture company that manufactures solar cells by using synthetic quartz powder, together with Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation (headquartered in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; Mikio Ikegaya, President & CEO). As a result of the investment, ITOCHU will become the second-largest shareholder behind the parent company of inQs.

In a world first, inQs has succeeded in developing and manufacturing two new kinds of solar cells, namely clear, colorless and highly transparent solar cells and solar cells that generate power under extremely low illumination, by using synthetic quartz powder, unlike existing solar cells made of polysilicon, the mainstream material at present. This new technology is attracting attention around the world as a technology that could transform power supply systems in the future. In February 2016, inQs received the Technology Innovation Special Prize in JVA2016 of Japan Venture Awards (JVA), the most prestigious venture commendation system in Japan.

The clear, colorless and highly transparent solar cells convert sunlight into electric energy on a steady basis by being used in lieu of glass. Reflecting this feature, the adoption of the new solar cells for automobiles and for the windows, walls and ceilings of office buildings, houses and factories that aim for total energy self-sufficiency is being considered. As the solar cells that generate power under extremely low illumination can generate electric power even in a dark room, wired charging and batteries of smartphones and remote controllers are expected to be unnecessary in the future as a result of incorporating them into these devices. Particularly with respect to various sensor systems, whose adoption is expected to increase dramatically as one of the core devices in the IoT area, which is said to be the industrial revolution of the 21st century, given the current situation where the power distribution work to secure the power source comprises more than half of the introduction costs, the shortening of the construction period and the reduction of the introduction costs are challenges. Accordingly, the solar cells that generate power under extremely low illumination are raising hopes as an independent power source with no need for wiring to the power source. As the world’s only independent power source that can obtain electric power sufficient to operate the systems at present, business discussions regarding the adoption of the new solar cells have already made progress with a number of large companies.

ITOCHU will contribute not only to sales of inQs’ products in Japan and overseas, but also to a creation in its corporate value through the planning and implementation of overall strategies.