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DuPont Continues to Innovate for Solar

In 2010, DuPont sales exceeded US$1 billion for PV products, one year ahead of schedule. Its goal is to exceed US$2 billion in sales by 2014. Thanks to its market-driven innovations, DuPont thrives in the photovoltaic market.
Maria E. Boulden, Global Sales Director, DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions, talks about the company’s new product launches, manufacturing capacity expansion, and commitment to solar energy.

Reported by Jeanny H. Lim



DuPont is specialized in PV materials. Please give us a little bit of an update on DuPont’s solar business?

We have a number of different products that go into a photovoltaic module. There are three primary products that go into a module: metallization paste, backsheet material and encapsulant. We’ve introduced new innovative products in each one of those lines: we have new type of Solamet® pastes 17x, we have new backsheet materials that are Tedlar® PV2400, and we have a new encapsulant material, PV8600. We’ve introduced 6 products in less than a year and we’ve also had some very dramatic capacity expansion to support this very quickly growing market. We’ve doubled our capacity for Solamet® metallization pastes and Tedlar® film for backsheets. We’ve invested just for the Tedlar® expansion US$295 million, which at a time when after the economic Tsunami, financing was very a challenging thing. For a corporation to commit that sum of money to one business for manufacturing facilities that made products for one market is not easy.

In addition, we have a very stable economic foundation, if you will. DuPont committed these types of capital investment strictly to photovoltaic, which to me, really shows the commitment that a corporation has to environmental sustainability and social responsibility in this market.


Where do you put your focus this year, in terms of both business and technology development? 

DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions (DPVS) is focused on supporting strong, continued growth in the industry by launching new products, investing in manufacturing capacity and by collaborating with leading companies throughout the value chain to accelerate materials developments better and faster.

Specifically, we’ve recently launched several new products, including new DuPont™ Solamet® photovoltaic metallization pastes, DuPont™ PV5400 encapsulants for thin-film PV, and Tedlar™ PV2400 polyvinyl fluoride film for PV backsheets.

DuPont is doubling capacity for Solamet® PV metallizations; and, DuPont has invested US$295 million in a multiphase monomer, polymer and film expansion which will more than double manufacturing capacity for Tedlar® PVF film. Plans are on track and on schedule for completion this year.


And speaking of Tedlar®, DuPont is marking the 50th anniversary of DuPont™ Tedlar® Polyvinyl Fluoride (PVF) film this year by commemorating its past, celebrating its present and looking ahead to a future of continued innovation.

We’re also collaborating with leading companies throughout the value chain to accelerate materials technology. Recent examples include Toppan with Tedlar® PV2400, Dunmore expanding its FastCert™ Qualification Process to include Tedlar®, and Sharp’s use of DuPont™ PV8600 encapsulants.

The purpose of these actions is to continue to increase the efficiency and lifetime of c-Si and thin-film PV solar modules, reduce overall system costs, and enable the PV industry to reach grid parity faster.


What are your expectations for the development of the PV materials market in the coming years?

In 2010, DuPont sales exceeded US$1 billion for PV products, one year ahead of schedule. Our goal is to exceed US$2 billion in sales by 2014.

DuPont and industry sources estimate there was 132% growth in 2010 vs. 2009. Projections for 2011 are 13% growth vs. 2010, to approximately 19 GW installed. Beyond 2011, we anticipate the PV market to grow approximately 20% a year for the next several years.

DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions (DPVS) continues to develop its broad and growing portfolio of materials and technology solutions, designed to increase the efficiency and lifetime of c-Si and thin-film PV solar modules, to enable the PV industry to reach grid parity faster and reduce overall system costs.


What is your perspective on the Asian solar market this year? What are the market drivers and inhibitors, to your mind?

We expect highest growth to shift away from key European countries, as China and the U.S. become major growth countries for PV in the future. India is also growing in importance to PV, with 1 GW expected by 2012, and 20 GW estimated by 2022.

Emerging markets will become more important. As pricing for PV systems continues to decline, they will continue to increase production and the number of installations is expected to continue to grow.

Quality and reliability will be critical for sustained growth as the market demands long lifetimes for PV systems.


How are you doing in the Chinese Solar market? What are your success factors there?

DuPont is doing well in China. DuPont has been a business leader there for more than 150 years. The company received its first Chinese order in 1862, and opened its first office in Shanghai in 1919. That presence has continually grown, and in 2005, DuPont launched a Research & Development (R&D) Center in Shanghai’s Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park which has received a total US$25 million of investment. The facility was greatly expanded in 2009, when DuPont opened a PV technical center, consisting of three laboratories focused on cell and module manufacturing, PV metallization, and module reliability testing. It continues to drive education and innovation in the region.

We are well positioned from an operations and manufacturing standpoint as well. Being geographically close to our customer base allows DuPont to work in close cooperation with business partners to develop innovative business and technological solutions for the growing market.


How are you doing in the Korean market?

If we think about the Korean market, there are a lot of tremendous capable companies in Korea that research and innovate in the photovoltaic space. And they are the companies who know how to scale up and be profitable very quickly, and we work closely with them. We try to understand their needs and support their development, so that when the market really starts to take off, we are part of that.


Jeanny H. Lim is Editor-in-Chief of InterPV. Send your comments to swied@infothe.com.



For more information, please send your e-mails to pved@infothe.com.

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