Sean Qin joined DSM Advanced Solar last year as Module Commercial Director in China after more than 10 years working in module manufacturing. Sean has a unique take on how PV has grown in the region – and how to tackle the next big challenges that face China in achieving greater LCOE. Here he shares some key takeaways.
For most of our domestic module makers the real focus now is the overseas market, where demand continues to increase (mainly based on the lower panel cost per Watt). However, we are seeing that brand, product quality, and international cooperation are increasingly important for module makers when selling to overseas markets. So too is sustainability, as our communities in China take increasing responsibility for the environment. This is where a trusted, global science-based company like DSM can add real value for module makers – for example by ‘coaching’ our partners in sustainable development. We can co-operate with them in many different ways – from joint venture to innovation partner; and we are committed, long term. For example, we have signed strategic partnerships with some tier 1 module makers; and also agreed a three-year strategic partnership agreement with China’s National Photovoltaic Center (CPVT) to develop new solar innovations.
Increasingly, we are convincing module makers that superior backsheets represent a huge untapped opportunity to not only protect the PV module, but to ensure its efficiency. Traditionally it was thought that the only real way to increase module efficiency was to increase the efficiency of the solar cell. The DSM Endurance backsheet is a real ‘disruptor’ here, because it uses a unique co-extrusion technology to deliver long-term, reliable performance in all climates at a competitive price. It’s an education process because backsheet innovation has been so weak in the past. But the value this technology brings to the entire PV module is unarguable – particularly as it is 100% recyclable and fluoro-free.
Even though there is a decrease in government feed-in-tariffs globally, we are seeing that solar energy is growing fast. Next to traditional (mainly rural) solar farms that often need to transfer solar energy large distances across the country, we now see new installations emerging closer to cities and urban environments. Beyond this we are witnessing more diversified distributed downstream applications for PV panels - for example, on factory roofs and indeed residential rooftops. It appears that solar panels are moving from a B2B to a B2C application, with lots of different demands and integration opportunities emerging.
All this is good news for module makers – especially if they work with innovative partners like DSM. For example, our Neutral Anti-Reflective coating (which boosts energy yield by up to 3% but without conventional blueish reflection color) is meeting customers’ demand for true black aesthetic solar panels; our Anti-Soiling coating - which features the same anti-reflective technology – offers solar operators the added benefit of protecting installations in dry, desert-like environments; our Conductive backsheets are enabling customers to get the maximum performance from high-power back-contact solar modules, and our Endurance backsheet, with extreme low WVTR, protects newly developed shingling and HJT modules from rear cell corrosion.
It’s an exciting time to be working in this industry!
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