Industry insiders point out that as the solar pv industry leads a bright future, the packaging materials market will flourish. The solar photovoltaic (PV) sector has experienced only a temporary drop in demand in the second half of 2009, despite widespread financial market distress.
The global photovoltaic market will grow at an annual rate of 25 percent in the next few years, while chemical giant dupont aims to increase sales of its photovoltaic business by 50 percent in 2010 because of strong growth in the solar market in Europe, North America and Asia, the company said on July 5, 2010.
With the growth of the solar industry, the demand for packaging materials, the protective barriers used to prevent damage to sensitive electronic equipment, is also increasing. According to research by Frost&Sullivan, a global consultancy, the global market for packaging materials is worth about $2 billion (1.6 billion euros) a year, mainly in the construction, automotive and solar industries. Although the solar industry is the smallest, it may have a brighter future in the longer term. In 2009, the photovoltaic packaging materials division was worth about $354 million.
Packaging agents are irreplaceable in photovoltaic modules, and the solar market is developing very fast. Manufacturers of packaging materials are trying to improve efficiency and durability in the face of a new wave of growth. Despite the recession, many major vendors have announced significant investment in 2010, the United States commercial corning silicone production equipment supplier with Germany REISROBOTICS company signed a strategic partnership, REISROBOTICS company will help to improve the output of solar panels, solar energy research and development center and declared the Belgium capacity will invest about $13 million.
In addition, the Japanese cola company increase the production line in Frankfurt, Germany, in response to the demand for encapsulating agent growth, has increased its capacity of 10000 tons/year to 39000 tons/year, and solutia company through to 240 million euros ($302 million) takeover of ethylene vinyl acetate copolymer (EVA) packaging materials production Mr Thieme (ETIMEXSolar), solar energy companies also make its existing polyvinyl butyral (PVB) amplification.
In general, solar modules consist of several layers: back panels, electronic components, packaging materials, and glass panels. At 150? C (302? F) conduct lamination to seal the component. Using a variety of different technologies, these cells have different photoelectric conversion efficiencies, which can have a positive or negative impact on them.
Copolymer EVA is the most commonly used material for packaging materials. According to Frost&Sullivan, it accounted for 82% of the market in 2009. The thermoplastic polymer PVB, its main competitor, has only 15% of the market but is growing rapidly.
PVB base modules tend to have higher performance and can be stored in the warehouse for a long time without affecting its performance (up to 4 years, while EVA is only 6 months). But they have so far only a relatively small market share, thanks to higher costs and longer production times.
In 2009, pv EVA and PVB were worth $288.2 million and $56.3 million respectively. More expensive options, such as polymers and organosilicon, are still good for the market, though they accounted for only about 2 per cent in 2009, or about $9.6m in revenues. Price is still a big problem. A big pressure comes from module manufacturers asking suppliers to reduce module costs. At the moment, organic silicon costs $9 to $10 per square metre, while EVA is much cheaper, at $3 to $4 per square metre.
A growing number of manufacturers have invested in Asian markets to get cheap production costs and capture fast-growing markets.
According to Frost&Sullivan, more than 60 percent of the 63 major packaging suppliers have established roots in China. Traditionally, however, the biggest markets remain in Europe. The desire for packaging technology in China is huge, but Europe remains a key part of global sales of photovoltaic packaging agents, a large base and one that will continue to grow.