More Chemicals Investments in Solar
The green blog’s good friend Neil Burns recently posted on his own blog about the impacts of clean technologies in the energy and chemicalssectors, which reminded me of my fast-growing list of recent chemicalcompany activities on clean tech especially from Dow Chemical and DuPont who seemed to be always talking about this billion dollars globalmarket potential.
I just posted today about Dow’s recent investments in clean technologies when this news just came out about the company’s start-up of its ENLIGHT polyolefin encapsulated films manufacturing facility in Ohio. The encapsulants are use inphotovoltaic (PV) solar panel modules. The company said it plans tophase in production capacity around the world as needed to meet growingdemand for PV encapsulants.
Also in the solar sector, DuPont noted films, resins,encapsulation sheets, flexible substrates and conductive pastes as someof the materials chemical companies (such as DuPont) supply tophotovoltaic manufacturers. DuPont said it expects this year to exceed$1 billion in revenue from sales into the PV market and to exceed $2bnin sales by 2014.
Meanwhile, Dow Chemical’s silicone joint venture business Dow Corning opened in November China’s largest integrated silicone manufacturingfacility with its partner Wacker Chemie. The facility in Zhangjiagang,Jiangsu province will have combined capacity for siloxane and pyrogenicsilica production at 210,000 tonnes/year.
In another news, Wacker announced last week that it is building a new polysilicon production facility inTennessee, US, with a capacity of 15,000 tonnes/year. The company saidit anticipates continued double-digit annual growth in polysilicondemand by the solar industry. Wacker claimed to be the world’s secondlargest producer of hyperpure polycrystalline silicon with a productionoutput of 30,000 tonnes in 2010.
The Wacker Tennessee plant is expected to be complete at the end of 2013.
Another solar materials supplier, Solutia, announced on December 8 its plans to expand current operations of its Vistasolarethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) encapsulant in Suzhou, China, by late 2011. No capacity numbers were disclosed. Solutia said the PV market has seen tremendous growth in 2010 and that majority of the PV module production is in Asia.
For product offerings, BASF was seen at the recent K2010 plastic show offering its Ultramid® grades polyamides for use in connectors and junction boxes of photovoltaic installations and PolyOne also showcased its solar product portfolio at the show such as colorand additive concentrates, flame retardant engineered materials for PVwire and cable, back sheets, connectors and housings.
Meanwhile, Arkema now made available in North America its premium grade of Kynar® PVDF film specifically developed for photovoltaic backsheets, and Rhodia launched in late November its new halogen-free flame retarded Technyl polyamides dedicated to PV component applications.
By the way, I received this recent Nexant prospectus about opportunities for manufacture and use of solar PVs. Theconsulting firm noted that global annual investments in SPV are now inthe billions of dollars and that growth rates of capacity installed invarious regions are as high as 40%/year. Two main types of SPVtechnologies are said to be crystalline silicon (c-Si) wafer (which arefar more mature) and thin film technologies (which have a significantlylower cost structure and achieved higher growth rates in recent years).
"Silicon accounts for approximately half of raw material costs forc-Si wafers and therefore is a key determinant of economics for SPVtechnologies. Driven mainly by the semiconductor industry, silicon costs are highly volatile and have oscillated between factors of up to 10from highest to lowest within the last few years. Therefore, addressingand managing silicon cost is crucial to the advancement of the SPVindustry." – Nexant
Lux Research also recently put out a study entitled "Module Cost Structure Breakdown: Can Thin Film Survive the c-Si Onslaught?", which noted the increasing pressure on manufacturers of thin filmtechnologies including TF silicon, cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copperindium gallium deselenide (CIGS) becayse of the falling cost ofpolysilicon raw material and advances in c-Si technologies.
"Crystalline silicon is dominant by volume andremains the cost/price benchmark for solar modules. Cadmium telluride is limited in efficiencies, but is the absolute leader in cost. We project these two technologies will continue to be highly profitable," said Ted Sullivan, a senior analyst for Lux Research, and the report’s leadauthor. "The profitability of thin-film silicon is much dicier, butcopper indium gallium diselenide is positioned to outplace crystallinesilicon in profitability by 2013 as leading developers improve processstability."
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