Reported by Jeanny H. Lim
What do you see as the trends and market forces driving PV technology in the second half of 2011?
For the second half of 2011, we will continue to see a slowing escalation of demand for solar modules versus supply, resulting in greater inventories for manufacturers. As the slowdown places downward pressure on prices, manufacturers will need to find ways to improve efficiency in the management of product capacity and reduce their cost/watt ratio to remain profitable. However, as a reduction in demand creates more competition, it will be critical for manufacturers to maintain or grow brand equity?and market share?by offering high-quality modules. Weather resistance, durability and a smaller environmental footprint will remain important factors for manufacturers when selecting solar module components and materials, and forming partnerships with suppliers that can provide these solutions is critical.
Where do you put your focus this year, in terms of business growth and technology development?
As a supplier of components to module manufacturers, we are focusing on the development of innovative materials and processing enhancements that help manufacturers improve efficiencies on the line, reduce costs and expand into new market segments. For example, the SolarBond® InFrame, an intelligent, innovative and instant solution for solar module manufacturing, allows for fast and clean automated applications, helping to speed production and reduce product waste. This, in turn, contributes to cost savings.
We are also continuing to look at ways to help solar module manufacturers expand in the market. For example, our materials for lightweight modules have helped manufacturers to grow into different product categories such as Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV).
With uncertainty circling the funding of PV systems in countries around the world, what challenges are market participants facing and what are the potential solutions?
With reductions in feed-in tariffs, the PV solar industry needs to make the final push to achieve grid parity, allowing market demand to explode. By increasing efficiencies, reducing manufacturing costs and minimizing product waste on production lines, manufacturers can bring down the costs of modules to boost their competitive edge.
Also, the recent questions and concerns surrounding nuclear energy safety has renewed interest in less volatile alternate energy sources, favoring the PV market. As a result, the PV solar industry is well-positioned to accommodate the anticipated growth in demand for economical, high-quality solar modules given the additional inventory that is waiting in the wings?and the automated systems available that allow for high-speed production of high-quality modules.
Jeanny H. Lim is Editor-in-Chief of InterPV. Send your comments to email@example.com.
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