Solar cell production in 2018 represented change on many fronts, but may be remembered as a year during which Chinese-owned companies made further strategic moves as part of the current Beijing mandate to position the country as a high-tech manufacturing global powerhouse.
Technology investments into advanced PV cell manufacturing have been at record levels in the past few years, with high-efficiency concepts seeing investment levels not seen since the days of turn-key thin-film lines a decade ago.
During the past few years, we have had numerous requests at PV-Tech from a wide range of PV industry stakeholders (due mainly to the success of the PV CellTech and PV ModuleTech series of conferences) to launch an India-specific PV event in Delhi. The requests have come from Indian companies, overseas investors, government bodies, trade associations, and both upstream/downstream industry activists seeking to understand and drive future developments.
European research and innovation hub centre imec has detailed a path for its nPERT (n-type Passivated Emitter and Rear Totally diffused) solar cell technology to reach conversion efficiencies in excess of 24% for volume production applications.
Much has been written and voiced over the past couple of months in the PV industry, following the so-called China-531 policy announcement that finally provided a wake-up call to Chinese manufacturers that their domestic end-market was not going to be allowed to maintain its near-exponential growth characteristics.
LONGi Green Energy Technology, the world’s largest dedicated manufacturer of monocrystalline wafers and its subsidiary, LONGi Solar, a member of the ‘Silicon Module Super League’ (SMSL) has reported first half year results that included record quarterly shipments, operating income and R&D spending.
China-based integrated polysilicon and merchant cell manufacturer Tongwei Group expects to begin pilot production of heterojunction (HJ) solar cells by the end of 2018, while the success of its 200MW Industry 4.0 fully-automated solar cell production line will lead to a longer-term migration of all cell production to intelligent manufacturing.
Leading ‘Silicon Module Super League’ (SMSL) member JinkoSolar has reported higher than guided second quarter PV module shipments and reiterated total shipments guidance to be in the range of 11.5GW to 12GW in 2018.
As the solar industry has grown from a 50GW market to 100GW in just a few years, the desire to have differentiated production has increased, especially for companies entering the market or repositioning strategies.
Major China-based PV module manufacturer Risen Energy, which entered PV Tech’s Top 10 module manufacturer’s rankings for the first time in 2017, has recently held a ground-breaking ceremony for its planned 5GW solar module manufacturing base in the Yiwu Information Optoelectronics High-tech Industrial Park, Zhejiang, China.
NOS Microsystems has developed an electronic software delivery (ESD) ecosystem called 'getPlus' that bridges the gap between automation provider and end user by seamlessly integrating into the industrial automation providers’ licensing structures and databases—SAP, Oracle etc…to monitor the status of machines so exact updates, and incompatibility issues are identified. The user-friendly tool helps factories make the transition to industry 4.0.
PV manufacturing capacity expansion announcements in the first quarter of 2018 continued to follow the strong trend set in the fourth quarter of 2017. The quarter also represented a revival in thin-film expansion plans as well as the return of PV module assembly outpacing solar cell announcements. Also notable was the return of India and the US as major destinations for new capacity plans.