PVTaiwan 2014 Highlights Strengths in Taiwan PV Market

PVTaiwan 2014 Highlights Strengths in Taiwan PV Market

By Terry Tsao, SEMI Taiwan

Repeated U.S. trade sanctions may have impacted the PV industries in Taiwan and China in many ways but they have also led to closer cross-strait cooperation. The introduction of tariffs has pushed the industry into adopting a more assertive global strategy. At the 2014 PV Taiwan Forum held in Taipei this year in conjunction with PVTaiwan 2014 in October, the experts were all upbeat on the future of the industry.

At the 2014 PV Taiwan Forum's Executive Summit,  Dr. Peng Heng Chang, chairman of the SEMI Taiwan PV Committee and CEO of Motech Industries, said that Taiwanese companies wanting to grow into larger international companies must carve out a niche for themselves in the China market. PV cells and modules manufactured by Taiwanese factories are popular with Chinese manufacturers, giving Taiwanese companies a relative advantage in the market. Shu Hwa, executive president of GCL-Poly Energy Holdings, believes that by leveraging their respective strengths, collaboration between PV companies in Taiwan and China will lead to endless opportunities. Walt Cheng, managing director of DuPont, Electronics & Communications, Greater China, reminded the cross-strait enterprises that an understanding of each other's strengths and weaknesses is crucial to successful collaboration. He also pointed out that the mandate for continued cost reduction should not be the only priority because this incurs higher installation costs downstream. 

Market Trends

In 2010, government subsidies led to the rapid development of large power plants in the China market. During the Market Deployment Forum, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst pointed out that China originally planned to install 13GW of PV power this year but only 3.3GW has been installed so far. In the future, the China market will switch from large power stations to small, distributed commercial power stations, so the overall market outlook remains optimistic. IHS Solar Research also noted during the forum that the China PV market will continue to grow through to 2018. The next emerging PV market is expected to be the Middle East. The sharp increase in the number of large power plants in Japan in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 will gradually ease in the near future, and small power plants will become more prevalent. An AM Capital analyst expressed confidence in the investment market based on the business model for small power plants in the future. James Chen, general manager of AUO's Solar Business Group, said: “If renewable energy can be effectively stored and integrated with the smart grid, then the possibilities for self-generating, distributed small-scale solar power systems are endless.” 

According to an ITRI IEK report, even though the global PV market will shrink to US$ 9.2B in 2014, global installation capacity will still reach 45GW. The report also emphasized that the rush to expand due to the overall economic recovery means that capacity and production lines must be optimized to avoid a repeat of the severe market glut. Taiwanese companies should in turn use their advantage in Si cells to develop customers outside of China, thus mitigating risk and ensuring leverage for additional international negotiations.  As the chairman of the SEMI Taiwan PV Committee and CEO of Motech said during the conclusion of the Executive Summit, the pace of industry recovery will depend on businesses thinking very carefully about capacity expansion.

PV Taiwan  and Upcoming PV Events

PV Taiwan is the largest PV trade show in Taiwan and this year's show attracted nearly 7,500 local and foreign buyers. Seven pavilions with 91 one-on-one buyers meetings were also set up and around US$ 100 million in business deals were closed on the spot. The PV Forum hosted by SEMI each year was once again filled to capacity.  The charged atmosphere mirrored the industry and experts' optimism on the future of the PV industry. "Walking in even the darkest tunnel you will one day emerge into the light" — for the PV industry, the light at the end of the long, dark tunnel appears to be in sight.

Upcoming PV events include Intersolar Europe (June 10-12) and SEMICON West (July 14-16).

The Grid
December 15, 2014