Reported by Jeanny Lim (email@example.com)
LDK Solar is a leading manufacturer of multicrystalline solar wafers and PV products. In February this year, you started manufacturing PV modules after acquring Best Solar’s crystalline module manufacturing plant. Could you tell us why you decided to get involed in the module manufacturing business?
The reason is simple: we saw the demand in the market. In 2009, LDK Solar expanded the scope of our vertical integration strategy to include sales of solar modules to developers, distributors and system integrators. We have large in-house production facilities of polysilicon and are the largest multicrystalline wafer manufacturer in the world. Manufacturing polysilicon, ingots, wafers, cells and modules under one roof ensures that we can tightly control both quality and cost, which makes our modules differentiated in the market.
How do you evaluate your performance so far this year and how much growth do you expect for next year?
Our growth this year so far has been very strong. If you look at our second quarter results, you’ll see our growth has been remarkable compared to last year. Next year, we expect to see strong growth in many markets. We see we’ll be doing well in Italy, Japan, France, the U.S.A. (especially California), Canada and China. We belive there will be strong demand for our products in these markets.
I understand that LDK Solar has reached an annualized wafer capacity of 2 GW, which is very impressive. Could you tell us more about that and introduce your wafer capacity goals going forward?
We reached 2.3 GW already by the end of June. Today it is more than that. We expand our production capacity according to market demand. If the market keeps growing, our capacity will definitely be growing. Currently, we are the largest multicrystalline wafer provider taking more than 15% market share worldwide. Our goal is to increase our wafer market share in the near future.
I understand you have huge backlog in wafer orders until 2018. Why do you think customers want to do business with LDK Solar?
At LDK Solar, we focus on large-scale, cost-effective manufacturing to provide price-competitive, high-quality, high-efficiency and environmentally friendly PV products to our customers worldwide. We are helping our customers to achieve grid parity and make solar energy affordable and accessible for everyone. Vertically integrated manufacturing, large-scale production facilities, proven low-cost manufacturing, world-class manufacturing facilities, high-quality high-efficiency products, leading global wafer supplier and diversified global customer base are what make our customers want to do business with us and keep coming back to us, I guess. After all, it’s all about stable supply.
To help our readers understand LDK Solar better, please give us a brief account on how LDK Solar entered the solar photovoltaic business in the first place.
We had two years of intensive research of the solar market and learned that the PV sector, especially, the wafer business, had a bottleneck issue. So, we saw an interesting opportunity where we could enter and meet the unmet demand in the market. When we started LDK Solar, we aimed at becoming the biggest solar wafer company in the world. Three years later, we achieved that.
What is your prediction for the polysilicon price next year?
I think the polysilicon price will go up, even to US$80 very soon. If the market remains strong both for the semiconductor and the solar industries, the price will go even higher to as high as US$100. But of coure, if the demand goes down in one industry, semiconductor or solar, the price will go down again. We see in the near future, the demand from both the solar and semiconductor industries, will be very strong and the price of polysilicon will keep going up.
What’s next at LDK Solar as you strive to improve your technologies and drive solar power innovation?
As a vertically integrated PV manufacturer, we are involved in both upstream (polysilicon production) and downstream (module production) businesses. We have a module capacity of 1.5 GW today. Weeks ago, we announced a goal of expanding our solar cell capacity to 1.26 GW by next year. Next year we will see large-scale integration from polysilicon to module.
Our target is to drive down the cost and to become the cost leader and large-scale, vertically integrated PV company from silicon to module.
Since you started your module manufacturing business, you have signed module supply contracts with companies such as Phoenix Solar AG, Enel, ABB and Gestamp Solar. Could you elaborate on your plans for the new solar module production venture? How is your module business going so far? And do you have plans to expand the business?
The module business has been going very well. If you see our last few quarters, the shipment and volume doubled every quarter. Our module business is very strong now with big capacity. It is one of the fastest growing businesses for LDK Solar. We want to be strong in both upstream (silicon, wafer) and downstream (module) businesses. Our business model somewhat looks like a dumbbell--we are very big in upstream and downstream and small in the middle which is the cell business.
LDK Solar has recently started commercial production of its second 5,000 MT polysilicon train. What are your annual capacity targets and expected production costs for polysilicon?
Currently, we are in production of about 11,000 MT. The current production cost is around US$42-US$43. Our target cost is below US$35 in the next few quarters. And we will further reduce the cost down to US$25 in the long run.
Jeanny Lim is Editor-in-Chief of InterPV. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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