InterPV examines how top Asian PV companies have been able to become the dominant players in the global PV industry and what they plan to do to enter the next phase of growth.
Reported by Jeanny Lim (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Strategies of Asian PV Giants for Next Phase of Growth
● Sticking to its Quality First policy
● Providing the lowest possible cost
● Expanding and diversifying customer base
● Providing the best possible service tailor-made to customer needs such as working with distribution partners to identify what the installers (its end customers) want and need. Setting up local offices in Europe, the U.S.A., Japan, Korea to better support local customer needs.
● Maintaining financial stability
● Raising production capacity to 1. 4 GW by mid-2010
● Introducing a number of new technology enhancements to drive its solar products to grid parity in 30% to 50% of world markets within the next five years
● Targeting emerging solar markets like Israel, Australia, the U.S.A. and Thailand
● Helping downstream partners
● Completed the ‘Middle Installation Extension Road Map’ to supply US$1 billion orders on time
● Raising production capacity to 1 GW by 2013
● Building a 300 MW solar cell manufacturing line by 2H 2010
● Entering the North American market
● Completing vertical systematization of PV production
● Producing high-efficiency cells
● Diversifying markets and working with strategic partners
● Controlling production costs and operation expenses
● Completed the second solar cell manufacturing plant in March 2010
● Raising its target to produce 1 GW per year by March 2010
● Increasing capacity at solar module assembly plants in the Czech Republic, China, Mexico and Japan
● Established a new solar module assembly line in June 2010
● Building the worlds largest photovoltaic production facility capable of producing 900 MW’s worth of thin-film photovoltaic cells a year
● Ramping up to more than 10 times its current scale to gigawatt class in 2011
● In CIS technology, achieved an aperture area efficiency of 16.03% on a 30 cm x 30 cm substrate developed in its laboratories
● Developing new and superior technologies in the PV panel space such as a semi-transparent BIPV panel that can be used for windows on buildings and for shade in tropical countries for which it has now achieved around 10% efficiency
● Increasing module capacity to 900 MW by mid-2010, added 15 MW capacity for automated BIPV manufacturing
● Growing customer support infrastructure across the globe
● Developed new Iris BIPV combining superior aesthetics with the same high quality and reliability as its other PV cells and modules
● Increasing efforts to promote Solarfun awareness in North America and Europe and qualifications as a leading global player.
Suntech’s key differentiators are scale and its steady focus on R&D. Its 380 global R&D professionals, working across China, Japan, the United States, Germany, and Australia, are creating advanced solar technology to drive solar to grid parity against fossil fuels. For example, Suntech was the first company to introduce the three bus-bar solar cell design back in 2007. Another example is its proprietary Gallium-F22 doping process that reduces initial light-induced degradation to less than 1%. The crowning achievement of its R&D teams is its advanced Pluto solar cell technology, which improves the conversion efficiencies of both polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar cells by 12%, all the while lowering total production costs. These customer-centric innovations are driving down the lifetime costs of solar power, making it possible for everyone to harness nature? most abundant energy resource. From small schools in Tibet and Lebanon to communication towers in India and east Africa, and from on-grid rooftop installations in San Francisco and Munich to utility-scale installations in Spain, China, and Korea, Suntech has supplied more than 9,000,000 solar panels to thousands of customers in more than 80 countries around the world.
Suntech’s immediate focus is on execution to make sure the company delivers for its global partners. Suntech is aggressively raising its production capacity to 1.4 GW by mid-2010, to meet growing demand for solar products in markets around the world. Suntech is well-established in a number of emerging solar markets, particularly those in the Asia Pacific region where the company expects its sales to at least double in 2010 compared to last year. In the long run, Suntech says it will continue to use technology to drive down the cost of solar for global consumers. Within the next five years, Suntech will introduce a number of new technology enhancements to drive its solar products to grid parity in 30% to 50% of world markets.
Suntech is expecting strong, continued demand growth particularly in emerging solar markets like Israel, Australia, the United States and Thailand, but also in perennial solar markets like Germany and Japan. With superior, high-value product offerings and a strong global brand, Suntech is currently focused on execution and helping its downstream partners continue to grow and thrive.
Based on the principle of bringing the benefit of the sun to people across the world, Kyocera began research and development into solar energy in 1975, just after the oil crisis hit Japan in the early 1970s. Even though the company experienced hard times when the expectation for solar power decreased after recovery from the oil crisis, Kyocera persisted with its solar business.
Kyocera has a fully-integrated production system; from purchasing silicon, melting and casting ingots, coating electrodes to assembling solar modules. This in-house production system allows it to control details in every production process. Therefore, Kyocera can improve its technologies in detail at every manufacturing stage. 35-year experience and in-house quality evaluation ensures the high quality and reliability of its products.
In order to respond to the growing demand for solar energy, Kyocera is working to enhance its production volume. In March 2010, its second solar cell manufacturing plant was completed, and the company has raised its target to produce 1 GW per year by the end of March 2013.
In addition to the new solar cell plant, Kyocera is increasing capacity at solar module assembly plants located in the Czech Republic, China, Mexico and Japan. Besides those 4 plants, Kyocera has also established a new solar module assembly line which is scheduled to start operation in mid-2010 in the company’s existing plant in San Diego (California State, the U.S.A.) to meet expected demand in the expanding U.S. solar market.
Last year, the market experienced a drop in prices with the impact of the global financial crisis. However, Kyocera still saw growth in the market, and the company expects the market will experience moderate growth in this year.
The European market continues to be the largest market, and Japan is also growing with revitalized subsidies and feed-in tariffs. Also, in the U.S., Kyocera has started to receive more positive orders.
Moreover, China and India have some plans for large-scale installations, so Kyocera expects rapid growth in the Asian market.
Millinet Solar started business five years ago. At that time, even large companies in Korea hesitated to make investment in this kind of business. But Millinet Solar adopted the world? best manufacturing facilities, high-quality human resources and IT application technical skills based on the infrastructure with world’s famous semiconductor-display field. So, Millinet Solar succeeded to produce 17% solar cells in a short period of time. In addition, it built the labor pool in the solar PV field with domestic and foreign academia labs.
Millinet Solar has recently completed the ‘Middle Installation Extension Road Map’ to secure the dominant position as a leading company and to supply customers with US$1 billion obtained order on time. It has a plan to secure 1 GW production capacity by 2013. Millinet Solar has continuously made an effort toward improving raw material technology and high-efficiency solar cell production through R&D projects with the Korean government supports.
Millinet Solar is planning to build a solar cell manufacturing line with an annual production capacity of 300 MW by the second half of this year. The company will continue to carry out research and development for mass production of high-efficiency solar cells. Especially, Millinet Solar plans to enter the North America market, which is expected to be the biggest market in the future. Millinet Solar says it will focus on the vertical systematization of solar PV from raw materials to system building.
Trina Solar Limited is an internationally recognized manufacturer of mono- and multicrystalline Photovoltaic (PV) modules and has a long history as a solar PV pioneer since it was founded in 1997 as a system installation company in China. Its high-quality PV modules provide clean and reliable solar electric power to on-grid and off-grid residential, commercial, industrial and utility-scale applications around the world. With local sales and marketing offices as well as installation partners throughout Asia, Europe and North America, Trina Solar is committed to improving the competitiveness and efficiency of solar energy and developing a sustainable PV industry.
Trina Solar has successfully developed into a leader in the PV industry based on its strong, vertically integrated business model, producing its own ingots, wafers, cells and modules in-house. The control and efficiency achieved from this integrated value chain helps to continuously improve the production process as well as ensure high-quality products to its end customers. This commitment to quality is one of the cornerstones of its long-term partnerships.
The listing in the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in December 2006 and the subsequent follow-on stock offering in June 2007 and convertible bond in July 2008 have allowed Trina Solar to successfully execute its expansion plans, guarantee a rapid increase of production capacity and ensure procurement of raw materials. At the same time, the listing in the NYSE and support of international investors has allowed the company to attract talents from around the world. Today, Trina Solar has a team of employees from over a dozen nations with significant PV industry experience, who contribute each day to the success of the company.
Achieving the lowest possible cost is the main battlefield in the PV industry. No industry can sustain a long-term prosperity relying on government subsidies. The PV industry, too, has to be able to stand on its own. Therefore, cost reduction is key to the health of the industry. This is what Trina Solar is doing. Trina Solar is constantly driving down the cost to reach grid parity, thus making it possible for people to use PV electricity at the same price as electricity from fossil fuels.
The cut in feed-in tariff in Germany will inevitably impact the market in the second half of 2010. However, Trina Solar believes its business prospect is very optimistic because it has such a diverse customer base. Unlike many of its competitors who depend largely on the German market, Trina Solar relys about 30% of its sales on the German market. So, the FiT reduction in Germany will not hurt the company severely.
Preparing for the next phase of growth, Trina Solar is focusing on providing more values to its customers. The company is reinventing itself to become the supplier of choice and it will provide its best possible service tailor-made to customer needs. Trina Solar working with its distribution partners to identify what the installers (its end customers) want and need and how it can serve them better.
As a cell supplier, Motech was established earlier than most of the pure European cell suppliers and has always used advanced and innovative technology. Motech believes its strengths are its focus and commitment to its customers and its market-leading efficiencies.
Motech’s fully integrated supply chain offers its customers the advantage of products that are matched to processes and the cost competitiveness without compromise to quality.
Motech feels positive about the second half of 2010 although there will be some challenges with the deterioration in Euro vs US$ and the decline in the German FiT.
Solarfun, a global, vertically integrated PV manufacturer based in China, offers the product quality and proven reliability of European competitors coupled with competitive pricing. Specifically, its products and manufacturing processes are certified by global standards for high quality and safety (ISO 9001, TV, CE, Safety Class II, and UL) critical to customers. Solarfun’s vertically integrated manufacturing ensures uncompromised product quality and a fully optimized process that drives out cost and inefficiency.
In addition, Solarfun’s products compete with non-Chinese competitors through product innovation and world-class R&D, and a growing global network of technical and customer service support. A truly global entity, Solarfun is led by an international executive team. Solarfun is also a highly “bankable” business partner with proven experience and solar projects throughout China and Europe. This combination of attributes, plus excellent pricing, has made Solarfun an attractive option to project developers and system integrators the world over.
Continued investment in capacity is critical to Solarfun’s growth model. The company recently announced plans to increase module capacity to 900 MW by August 2010 to meet customer demands.
Solarfun continues to invest in R&D and its growing customer support infrastructure across the globe. Its focus on the highest growth segments of the market continues with a pipline of specialized, innovative products to meet real-world customer demand. For example, its new Iris BIPV combines superior aesthetics with the same high quality and reliability as its other PV cells and modules. Part of its expansion plans in North America and Europe include increased efforts to promote Solarfun awareness and qualifications as a leading global player.
Solarfun achieved strong performance in 2010 with Q1 revenues exceeding US$200 million for the first time. The company expects this growth to continue with full-year shipments reaching 65 MW. Due to anticipated demand from customers for the second half of 2010, Solarfun plans to further expand module capacity to 900 MW by mid-year. As part of this expansion, Solarfun also added capacity of 15 MW for automated Building Integrated PV (BIPV) manufacturing to meet particularly strong demand in this segment.
Mitsubishi Electric was able to grow globally because it established sales branches and began selling PV products at an early stage. In addition to developing sales channels, Mitsubishi Electric has launched products that best match the market needs. Mitsubishi Electric’s products are differenciated from others’ by its high reliability.
Mitsubishi Electric will enhance its product lineup to suit the various needs in the market. In Japan, Mitsubishi Electric is working to expand its business in line with the growing demand. In other regions, especially in Europe, Mitsubishi Electric intends to expand its business while carefully watching the impact of government policy changes, for example Germany, which is expected to experience change in the FiT system this year.
Key strengths of Gintech include advanced production equipment, high yield rate and conversion efficiency, lower production costs, scale of production with quality controls, sound financial structures, powerful alliance of supply chain and high-caliber employees, according to the Taiwanese company.
To secure the current leading position in the market and grow further, Gintech aims to pursue at least three things in the future: 1) producing high-efficiency cells, 2) diversifying markets and working with strategic partners; and 3) controlling production costs and operation expenses.
Gintech predicts the global demand will stay stable, as it did in the first half of 2010. Gintech’s Q3 orders are close to 100% booked. For Q4, its about 70-80% booked.
Neo Solar Power
Neo Solar Power (NSP) combines years of semiconductor manufacturing management and solar device technology. NSP started in 2005 and the first production line took only one month up and running. Since the inception, NSP has focused on technology, quality and customer service. Thanks to its high business integrity, NSP quickly gained recognition in the global industry. NSP is differentiated from its European competitors for its innovative technology, high cell performance, quick response time besides lower cost.
NSP plans to continue expansion to reach economies of scale to further speed the arrival of grid parity. Many world-renowned module customers rely on NSP to support their business plan, which makes NSP grow based on sound foundation.
Due to the cuts in feed-in tariff in Germany, the solar market will inevitably be impacted. The value chain will see price pressure from downstream all the way up. Other than that, NSP is optimistic about the growth in other markets such as France, Italy, Japan and the U.S.A. Thanks to its market position and good pool of customer base, NSP believes it will weather policy changes and continue to prosper.
Solar Frontier’s leadership is in CIS technology. Solar Frontier’s CIS technology is one of several types of thin film out there, but it’s the most efficient type, and it has numerous advantages over competing technologies. The company has a deep commitment to creating the most economical, ecological solar energy solutions in the world, on the world’s largest scale. Solar Frontier’s proprietary CIS technology, denoting key ingredients Copper, Indium, and Selenium, has the best overall potential to set the world’s most enduring standard for solar energy. This is based on its legacy of work in solar technology since the 1970s, the priority focus its laboratories have given to CIS since 1993, and its success in large-scale CIS commercialization since 2007. The critical factors that combine to make CIS the overall economical and ecological leader include high efficiency and low production costs as well as superior reliability, stability, sustainability, non-toxicity, and lower overall energy consumption in the manufacturing process to yield a faster energy payback time. That is why in 2009 Solar Frontier announced plans for a 900 MW factory in Miyazaki, Japan. Scheduled to commence operations in 2011, it will become the world’s largest photovoltaic production facility, enabling Solar Frontier to meet worldwide demand for the new standard in affordable solar panel performance.
Solar Frontier is not only taking part in the sector, but setting out to define and lead it.
Since 2007, Solar Frontier has proven to customers inside and outside Japan that it can meet their economical and ecological priorities, and as it ramps up to more than ten times its current scale to gigawatt class in 2011, Solar Frontier will be able to reduce cost and resources even more significantly while continuing to increase panel efficiencies.
Solar Frontier’s efforts are focused on two key areas--increasing the efficiency of its panels, and improving its mass production technology. The work its scientists in the Atsugi research center do is swiftly applied to mass production through the use of a pilot plant it built in 2009 that is equipped with exactly the same machines as used in its upcoming 900 MW third plant, meaning it can produce larger panels with higher efficiency and yield. Solar Frontier continues to improve the efficiency of its proprietary CIS technology, highlighted by landmarks such as the recent achievement of an aperture area efficiency of 16.03% on a 30 cm x 30 cm substrate developed in its laboratories. Solar Frontier has worked with Ulvac and others to enhance its mass production technology and after making significant progress the company decided to implement that technology in its third plant, but Solar Frontier will continue to focus on R&D for further improvements. Solar Frontier is also developing new and superior technologies in the PV panel space such as a semi-transparent BIPV panel that can be used for windows on buildings and for shade in tropical countries for which it has now achieved around 10% efficiency--double that of its competitors. With cutting-edge technologies like this, Solar Frontier hopes to be able to offer customers with more options for power generation so that it can contribute a significant proportion of energy needs through its clean CIS solar technology.
Sales out of its second factory continue at an extremely strong clip and Solar Frontier is ramping up orders from the third factory as well. Solar Frontier has chosen the right moment to grow its capacity.
Jeanny Lim is Editor-in-Chief of InterPV. Send your comments to email@example.com.
For more information, please send your e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ⓒ www.interpv.net All rights reserved