Bohan Chen, CEO of China-based PV manufacturer Talesun Solar. Credit: Talesun
PV Tech caught up with Bohan Chen, CEO of China-based PV manufacturer Talesun Solar, to discuss global solar market demand and keeping up with module trends through US$1 billion of R&D spending in the last five years.
How much of your module business do you expect outside China this year? And what are the main overseas markets?
Bohan Chen: Compared with 2017, the total installed capacity of the global PV market is decreased, which is affected by the Chinese market. We estimate that shipments in 2018 will be less than 90GW in a conservative way. Due to our overseas layout and good performance, we expect that Talesun’s module shipment in this year will be slightly higher than last year, at around 3GW in total, with 2GW in overseas markets. The shipments are mainly concentrated in China, India, Australia, the United States and Western European countries.
But next year, with more positive policies released in some major PV markets and our 4GW manufacturing capacity in China and 1GW in Thailand, we will expand the market. Japan, Turkey, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Vietnam, Thailand and some Middle Eastern countries will also become our main markets in 2019.
Talesun has emerged as one of the major global module suppliers in the past 10 years. What have been the main reasons behind the company’s success outside China?
We have pursued a global development strategy ever since our establishment and Talesun now has 5GW of installed module capacity globally. We have also completed seven storage bases and have more than 30 offices globally. Our reliable global network has allowed us to offer localized service and rapid response to the requirements of customers in different areas efficiently, in order to save time and costs for them.
The company has historically committed to developing global PV projects to facilitate module sales, so we have reached out to more than 40 financial institutions around the world ahead of our project constructions, which demonstrates our strong bankability, including with some internationally renowned banks, such as Citibank, Bank of America, JP Morgan and HSBC. As it happens, the latest Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) report on global module enterprise bankability research ranked Talesun the 16th globally.
Module performance has improved significantly in the past 5 years. What has Talesun been doing to increase efficiencies and module reliability?
We have invested heavily in product R&D every year, facilitated by our stable financial situation, in order to be able to quickly respond to market trends. Our accumulative R&D investment topped US$1 billion in the past five years. Our technical R&D team has made relentless efforts to develop technology and products with independent intellectual property rights, including cell busbar research of 4bb, 5bb, MBB and cell development of BSF, PERC, PERC2.0 and 23. The average efficiency and yield have been gradually improved with a full range of module products being developed and installed.
Most importantly, we focus on manufacturing products that can obtain the highest average efficiency and the highest module efficiency in mass production, but not products with the highest single cell efficiency or module efficiency.
From the off, we have also aspired to be a reliable and accredited product producer by cooperating with the best material and equipment suppliers in the supply chain to help guarantee material quality. Fully automated and high-performance smart equipment also ensures processing consistency and high reliability. We have also focused on lean production for solid product manufacturing management and our test centre has been TMP and CNAS certified to ensure product reliability.
Part of Talesun's growth has come from experience doing project acquisition and EPC work. Is this likely to be a key strategy going forward also?
Yes, our cumulative grid-connected power plants worldwide now total 6GW with a large number of plants under construction, including a 300MW plant in Jujuy Province, Argentina, which will become the largest single PV plant in South America once completed.
In the future, Talesun will seek further cooperation opportunities for constructing power plants in South America, Southeast Asia and Africa to sell part of our modules, and power plants built with self-investment will be sold.