In the past few days, we have featured some of the key trends in the solar industry during 2016, including the changing face of c-Si cell spending and the strong capex into new facilities in countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia. The technology split of solar cells produced in 2016 was also reviewed, showing the resilience of p-type multi and the factors that have been holding back further market-share gains for p-type mono.
Solar cells produced using p-type multi c-Si wafers retained their dominant market-share position in 2016, despite significant investments into p-type mono and advanced cell production, such as PERC. The transition to increased mono wafer use is now expected to be seen more clearly during 2017 and 2018, but depends still upon the relative end-market demand from the domestic Chinese market.
The lack of information in a joint press release from Tesla and Panasonic, confirming a solar cell manufacturing partnership at the SolarCity/Silevo 1GW Buffalo fab in New York State was not a surprise, especially considering it merely rubber stamped an MOU previously announced that was only subject to the successful acquisition by Tesla of SolarCity.
The recent announcements from Silicon Module Super League (SMSL) manufacturer LONGi Silicon Materials, to acquire the Malaysia wafering operations of Comtec Solar Systems Group and to align with Trina Solar and Tongwei for a new 5GW factory in China, represent yet more substance to LONGi’s active push to shift the industry to mono c-Si cell and module supply.
Even though monkeys were allegedly wreaking havoc on India’s solar rooftop systems last year, 2016 was remarkable for the Indian PV sector. With solar taking 1% the nation’s electricity share and India set to become the world’s third largest market in 2017 , Bloomberg New Energy Finance has proclaimed that ‘solar is king of Indian renewables’. Add the completion of the world’s largest solar plant to these accolades and you have a good indicator of the South Asian giant’s ambitions. Even India’s biggest oil, steel and mining companies are getting on board the solar rush.