China’s photovoltaic manufacturing industry is sweeping the global photovoltaic market with unmatched advantages, both in terms of production capacity and production costs. However, under the epidemic situation, the end demand of the photovoltaic market that “bucks the trend” is making more countries consider encouraging domestic manufacturing.
In most parts of Europe, photovoltaic power generation has become the cheapest clean energy, which plays an important role in achieving the “zero carbon” goal. With the launch of the economic recovery plan after the epidemic, the photovoltaic manufacturing industry has become an important strategic part of many countries to increase green employment. In early November, REC confirmed the location of its 4GW photovoltaic module factory in France, with a total planned investment of 680 million euros. Heterjunction components are manufactured in Hambach in the Moselle province, but the earliest construction will start in 2022. Meyer Burger also announced in May this year that it plans to build gigawatt plants in Europe and some small components in Germany and Poland.
Five photovoltaic manufacturers plan to produce more than 25GW, but will start production in 2021 less than 1GW
SolarPower Europe, a European photovoltaic organization, has launched the “Solar Manufacturing Accelerator”, a platform called photovoltaic manufacturing accelerator, aimed at accelerating the recovery of photovoltaic manufacturing in Europe. Manufacturing companies that join this platform plan for more than 25GW of photovoltaics in the next five years Manufacturing capacity.
Meyer Burger plans 5GW cells and modules: This veteran Swiss original equipment manufacturer has an in-depth understanding of China’s photovoltaic manufacturing history. In the past ten years, most of the equipment in China’s photovoltaic factories have been purchased from Meyer Burger. These manufacturing equipment give Meyer Burger a natural foundation in component and battery innovation.
Time has changed. Although Meyer Burger’s ideas continue to emerge, with the fierce competition in manufacturing equipment, Meyer Burger had to stop selling photovoltaic manufacturing equipment and instead use its own technology to manufacture components. After acquiring the factory of Solarworld, a former German module manufacturer, Meyer Burger is preparing to complete a 400MW heterojunction cell and module production line in the first half of next year, and hopes to expand its production capacity to 5GW by 2026.
Meyer Burger claims that the modules produced by the German factory are mainly used for roofing projects. There are already prospective customers from Europe and the United States, and the annual purchase volume exceeds 2GW.
Oxford Photovoltaic plans for 10GW cells: As a company that has repeatedly broken the record of conversion efficiency of perovskite cells, Oxford Photovoltaic ordered the first batch of heterojunction production lines from Meyer Burger in August 2019, and will be in Brandenburg, Germany Expanded the production line of 125MW perovskite-HJT stacked photovoltaic cells. The first phase of investment is approximately 44 million euros, of which the Brandenburg State Government invested 8.8 million euros.
Oxford Photovoltaics expects to expand its production line to 250MW by the end of next year, and plans to invest another 250 million euros to achieve a 10GW capacity by 2024, and the cell efficiency will increase from the current 26% to 35%.
Frank P. Averdung, CEO of Oxford Photovoltaics, said that when Chinese manufacturing companies find that their photovoltaic cells can only reach a maximum efficiency of 25.5%, they will only have to continue to compete on cost in the future. Especially this year, many first-tier component factories in China are expanding production vigorously, just to prepare for cruel cost competition. This is why Oxford Photovoltaic has always had confidence in perovskite tandem cells.
3Sun plans 3.3GW cells and modules by 2024: 3Sun is a photovoltaic cell and module factory in Catania, Italy, wholly-owned by Enel. The plant mainly produces heterojunction bifacial cells and modules. In 2019, 3Sun invested 80 million euros to start the first 200MW heterojunction production line, and plans to increase the production capacity to 3.3GW by 2023-2024. There is no doubt that Enel is eagerly looking forward to the return on investment.
The “5GW + Green Factory” alliance plans to reach 5 GW of cell and module production capacity by 2023: The “5GW + Green Factory” alliance is a collaboration between photovoltaic technology expert RCT Solutions and many research institutions and industry organizations including Fraunhofer ISE and VDMA in Germany. In the second half of this year, it is expected to obtain 500 million euros (US$590 million) in financing from an investor audience. The goal is to rapidly develop 5GW of battery and module production capacity by 2023.
RCT has accumulated some experience in plant construction in recent years. As Kalyon Solar’s key partners in developing gigawatt-scale plants in Turkey, the two companies participated in the Turkish plant’s bidding in March 2017. Zhihu, the first batch of 500MW photovoltaic capacity has been Go online this summer.
Genuine Europe Solar plans to achieve 2GW silicon wafers, cells and modules by 2022: This is a photovoltaic manufacturing company opened in Hungary this year by a consortium led by EcoSolifer of Switzerland. This summer, it used Meyer Burger’s production technology to open a 100MW heterojunction. For the production line, Genuine Europe Solar plans to slowly expand to 350MW in the next few years, and achieve 2GW of silicon wafer, cell and module production capacity by 2022.
European manufacturing costs are high, aiming at the high-end household market
Although European governments and green energy organizations have high hopes for the recovery of photovoltaic manufacturing, from the perspective of market competitiveness, it is temporarily difficult to compete with Chinese photovoltaic manufacturing.
As we all know, in the process of transforming photovoltaic power generation from a fringe industry to mainstream clean energy, China’s manufacturing is indispensable, thanks to China’s most comprehensive and lower-cost photovoltaic manufacturing supporting industrial chain. In line with the ability to reduce costs, the global share of China’s photovoltaic manufacturing is rising rapidly. This year, Jinko, Trina Solar, Longi, JA, and Risen Energy are expected to account for more than 70% of shipments of Chinese module companies. .
At the same time, the capacity expansion of leading companies is also proceeding in an orderly manner. With just one component, Jinko, Trina, Longji, JA, and Risen Energy’s expansion plans for this year exceed 110GW. In the face of low manufacturing costs and huge production capacity, European photovoltaic manufacturing does not yet have the competitiveness.
Yang Feng (pseudonym), a project manager of a certain line of photovoltaic module manufacturers, has been responsible for the European market for many years. When talking about the recovery of the European photovoltaic manufacturing industry, he said, “The efficiency of photovoltaic modules produced in Europe may be innovative, but it cannot match those made in China and Southeast Asia. , There is too much difference between the supporting industry chain and the total production cost. Unless the European government can provide special subsidies. Otherwise, with the abolition of the minimum price, the competitiveness of components produced in Europe is far less competitive than those made in China.”
But on the other hand, European manufacturing is not completely without a market. Yang Feng explained, “Europe and the United States’ household photovoltaics are very high-quality target markets with high price acceptance, and these customers will use some local products with government encouragement. Due to political and tariff factors, European manufacturing will also be given some preferential terms. In addition, some European green alliances will also consider European manufacturing to aid public welfare projects in Africa or third world countries.”
Nevertheless, Europe hopes to reduce its dependence on “Made in China” through a green economic recovery plan. Not only in Europe, according to photovoltaics, some companies have reported recently that Japan, Australia and India will establish a supply chain alliance, hoping that the three countries can learn from each other’s strengths and weaken their dependence on my country’s photovoltaic products. Among them, India is particularly obvious, not only imposing safeguard tariffs on cells and modules produced in China and other places, but also vigorously stimulating local photovoltaic manufacturing.
In fact, the overseas R&D strength in advanced technologies such as heterojunction, perovskite, and laminated batteries is still awesome, while the advantages of Chinese manufacturing are more concentrated in achieving mass production and continuing to reduce costs. As the global photovoltaic market space increases and the proportion of Chinese manufacturing continues to increase, it is bound to attract the attention of foreign markets. The recovery of European manufacturing is one of the signs. It should be noted that while reducing costs, China’s photovoltaic manufacturing also needs continuous innovation in advanced technologies and other aspects in order to become a true photovoltaic manufacturing country.