As previously reported there was a significant slowdown in global solar PV manufacturing capacity expansion announcements in the third quarter of 2017, which we highlighted was hardly surprising due to significant level of expansions plans announced in the first half of the year. However, despite increased concerns over the potential imposition of restrictive trade practices in the US and India in the fourth quarter of 2017, there was a significant rebound over the previous quarter, leading to the highest recorded gigawatts of new expansion announcements.
The third PV CellTech event takes place in Penang, Malaysia in just two weeks from now, on 13-14 March 2018. The schedule of speakers and companies lined up this year is set to be both fascinating to hear, and essential to dissect, when looking at exactly how the PV industry will evolve beyond the 100GW of solar cells produced in 2017.
The major manufacturing transition by First Solar to its large-area Series 6 CdTe thin-film module format is well underway and, going by recent management commentary in its fourth quarter 2017 conference call with financial analysts, has increased its tempo slightly, not least due to updated spending plans for the second time in a few months.
PV capital expenditure (capex) in 2018, covering investments into ingot, wafer, cell and module capacity, will grow by almost 25% compared to 2017, passing through the US$10 billion mark, returning to levels last seen back in 2010 and 2011 when investments in turn-key thin-film fabs were a key contributor.
Solar PV capital expenditure (capex) covering the midstream segments of the industry (c-Si ingot-to-module and thin-film) is now well into its second major upturn in spending, going into 2018, at a time when the industry is just about to move to a new phase in annual deployment levels of greater than 100GW.
At the inaugural PV ModuleTech 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, it became clear that PERC module technology is fast becoming the industry standard and bifacial modules are no longer seen as a niche product, however, both technologies were scrutinised from the perspective of bankability and quality assurance studies throughout the event.
The first PV ModuleTech event is due to take place in Kuala Lumpur on 7-8 November, and the event is poised to explain and define the key module suppliers, technologies and audited metrics that are imperative to developers, EPCs, investors and asset owners for utility-scale solar module deployment in 2018 and beyond.
What a start to the PV Taiwan 2017 week! There have been some rather tame mergers and acquisitions in the solar PV industry over the years - not to mention the shuffling of zombie factories within China – but the news today that Neo Solar Power, Gintech Energy Corp., and Solartech Energy are planning to merge is worthy of far more scrutiny.