Will the photovoltaic new material industry “slump” after the “avalanche” of silicon material prices?

Since 2022 in China, affected by the high price of silicon materials, the photovoltaic industry has also turned its attention to cheaper and more efficient new materials, such as perovskite photovoltaic cells, glass fiber, polyurethane photovoltaic borders, modified silicone photovoltaic film and so on.

However, with the recent “avalanche” of silicon material prices, silicon chip prices have fallen sharply, and component prices have also been hit to the lowest price in nearly two years. According to the latest data of PV InfoLink, the current average price of polysilicon dense material is only 64 yuan /kg; The average price of M10 size silicon chips fell to 2.75 yuan/piece, and the price of G12 size silicon chips fell to 3.9 yuan/piece. The average price of M10 size TOPCon double glass components fell to 1.50 yuan /W, and the average price of G12 size HJT double glass components fell to 1.63 yuan /W.

Under this market, will the development of new photovoltaic materials that have been hot before be affected?

Recently, the “Daily Economic News” reporter interviewed including China Boulder (600176) (SH600176, share price 13.86 yuan, market value 55.48 billion yuan), Lopskine (SZ002333, share price 6.10 yuan, market value 4.1 billion yuan), Foster (603806) (SH603806, share price 35.55 yuan, A number of industry chain companies, such as Jinfu Technology (300128) (SZ300128, share price 5.80 yuan, market value 6.35 billion yuan), Kunshan XXX Optoelectronic Materials Co., LTD. (hereinafter referred to as Kunshan GCL), Jidian Optoelectronic Energy Co., LTD., are trying to explore the development of new materials under the new changes.

High silicon prices: Has perovskite mass production been promoted?

How many years does it take for an invention or a technology to move from the laboratory to the factory for quantitative production?

Perovskite was used for 13 years.

Dr. Fan Bin, Chairman of GCL-Kunshan, recently accepted a telephone interview with a reporter from the National Economic News. In 2009, perovskite appeared in the laboratory for the first time. In 2013, he led a team in the mass production and development of perovskite; In 2016, the team was acquired by GCL.

In 2020, GCL Kunshan began to build the first 100MW perovskite module mass production model, the product size of 1m×2m, is expected to complete the installation and commissioning of equipment in 12 months, start trial production in December 2021, achieve capacity release in 2022, 1m×2m module photoelectric conversion efficiency reached more than 16%, Fan Bin said. The goal for this year is to achieve an 18% photoelectric conversion efficiency.

In addition, at the beginning of 2022, Hangzhou Xiona Optoelectronics Technology Co., Ltd. built a 100MW perovskite mineral line, which is expected to reach the GW level in 2024; In December 2022, the 150MW perovskite mineral line was put into production, and at the end of June this year, according to media reports, the company created a 17.18% full-area efficiency on 0.72m2 perovskite mass production components after strict testing and certification by the global authority TUV-SUD.

So, is the high price of silicon prompting the mass production of perovskites? According to the data, in early July 2022, the domestic polysilicon price broke through 300,000 yuan/ton for the first time, a four-fold increase compared with the lowest price in 2019, and the polysilicon price has remained high for nearly five months since then.

Until the “Notice on Matters related to the healthy development of the photovoltaic industry chain” was released, the notice involved multiple measures to ensure reasonable polysilicon production, create conditions to support polysilicon advanced production capacity to reach production on schedule, encourage polysilicon enterprises to reasonably control product price levels, etc., after which polysilicon prices began to loosen, November 30, 2022, According to data released by PV InfoLink, the average transaction price of polysilicon dense material fell below 300,000 yuan/ton for the first time.

According to the data released by the Silicon branch of the China Non-Ferrous Metals Industry Association on July 5, the domestic N-type material price range was 72,000 yuan ~ 80,000 yuan/ton, and the average transaction price was 74,200 yuan/ton, with a weekly increase of 0.68%; The price range of single crystal dense material is 60,000 yuan ~ 7400 yuan/ton, and the average transaction price is 65,700 yuan/ton, which is flat week on week.

Fan Bin said that perovskite is a general photovoltaic technology, it is not produced in thin air, but the accumulation of academia for many years, once erupted. And from the perspective of development history, in 2016, the test data of perovskite has already had an excellent record of 12,000 continuous hours without attenuation, and recently, it has achieved 3,000 continuous hours without attenuation in the crystalline silicon battery test environment.

However, there are still two recognized difficulties in the mass production of perovskite, one is large-area film forming technology, and the other is stability.

Dr. Jiang Weilong, vice president of Pole-electric light Energy, told reporters that large-area film forming technology has different technical routes in the industry, and two of them are being verified on the perovskite mineral line at the 100-megawatt level. Pole-electric light Energy uses self-developed perovskite mass production technology, which can achieve large-scale preparation, high efficiency and high stability of perovskite photovoltaic modules, and this technology has been introduced into the 150MW production line, and the overall performance of the product has been steadily improved.

In terms of product stability, the components of pole-electric light energy 810cm2 have also passed the full sequence test certification of the third-party IEC61215, which also shows that the stability of the product can be tested by the stability standard of crystalline silicon photovoltaic products. At present, the certification test of the company’s 0.72m2 perovskite mass production components is also being promoted, and more measured inspection data will be collected in the future.

In addition, in terms of cost, Fan Bin said that although the current mass production plant is still in the efficiency climbing stage, the cost is difficult to estimate, but from the equipment price, energy consumption, raw material consumption, etc., the early mass production of perovskite should be able to achieve about 70% of the cost of crystalline silicon components, the future large-scale mass production, the cost can do about half of the current cost of crystalline silicon components.

“I estimate that in the next three to five years, there could be 5 to 10GW of capacity for perovskite components.” “Fan Bin said.

Future outlook: Photovoltaic industry has 5 to 6 years of growth?

The frame is one of the important auxiliary materials of photovoltaic modules, accounting for nearly 9% of the cost, of which the market share of aluminum frame is as high as 96%. In the manufacturing process of aluminum frame, the processing fee is generally relatively stable, and the main influence on the price of the frame is the aluminum price.

A few days ago, one of the leading aluminum alloy frame Ropskine Dong secretary Yu Jun told the “Daily Economic News” reporter, the company mainly provides aluminum alloy frame for Artes, a photovoltaic module manufacturers, sales model for the first quarter of the bidding, the price with the market. At present, the price of silver-white aluminum profiles is 4800 yuan ~5000 yuan/ton, and the price of black aluminum profiles is about 6700 yuan/ton.

According to business data, as of July 10, the market price of aluminum in East China was 18,300 yuan/ton, from the data of nearly three years, the current aluminum price has risen by more than 60% compared with the end of 2020. Southwest Securities (600369) released a research report at the beginning of July that the cost of domestic electrolytic aluminum raw materials is still in the declining channel, industry profits follow the fluctuation of aluminum prices, and aluminum prices and industry profits are expected to have downward risks in the third quarter, but the equity market performance is strong.

In this regard, Yu Jun believes that the photovoltaic industry has 5 to 6 years of growth, the border demand is very large, as an auxiliary material manufacturer, the company actually does not want the aluminum price to fluctuate significantly, it is best to be stable or slow up.

On the other hand, in the face of the sea, beaches, saline-alkali land and other scenes, photovoltaic modules require strong corrosion resistance, and aluminum is a reactive metal, and acid and alkali can react, resulting in the traditional aluminum frame solution is difficult to ensure 25 years of service life.

Since 2022, photovoltaic leaders such as JinkoEnergy, Longi Green Energy, and Yijing Optoelectronics (600537) have carried out the application of composite materials in the field of photovoltaic frames. For example, in August 2022, JinkoSolar and the participating units composed of De Yilong and Kostro Investment discussed the project “Technical standards for glass fibre-reinforced composite frames for crystalline silicon photovoltaic modules”; In December 2022, Longi Green Energy and Wanhua reached a strategic cooperation, including polyurethane composite frame cooperation.

In 2013, the company cooperated with De Yilong on a number of comprehensive tests of the performance of glass fiber polyurethane composite materials, and from 2014 to 2015, the company’s composite frame components were applied to two distributed rooftop photovoltaic projects in Shanghai and Zhejiang.

In this regard, China Megalithic certification Shen Guoming mentioned at the 2022 annual shareholders’ meeting that the company is jointly developing and promoting the use of glass fiber to replace aluminum alloy frames and other components in photovoltaic modules with downstream customers, and has now reached the final verification stage. “The biggest advantage of the glass fiber frame is that it can reduce the cost of about 10%, and can better adapt to some harsh environments, according to calculations, 1GW of photovoltaic modules need about 3,000 tons of glass fiber, the future demand potential is greater.”

Recently, Shen Guoming further introduced to the “Daily Economic News” reporter said that the corrosion resistance of glass fiber products, electrical insulation, anti-atomization, anti-bending performance is much better than aluminum alloy, from the cost point of view, aluminum alloy prices have risen recently, and glass fiber is more cost-effective, resulting in the cost of glass fiber frame is 10% to 15% lower than aluminum alloy frame.

For the verification of the glass fiber frame, Shen Guoming said that it is currently in the module manufacturers to the third party certification stage, individual enterprises have passed the certification, but in terms of future large-scale production, it takes time, “some photovoltaic project bidding, the requirements for photovoltaic modules have not changed, but also stay in the traditional aluminum alloy frame,” I hope relevant departments and industry associations can issue a series of norms or standards to provide guidance and more support for the promotion and use of glass fiber frames.”

Film change: EVA, POE film laminating process will be replaced?

In recent years, due to the rapid development of the photovoltaic industry, there has been a huge demand for photovoltaic EVA and POE, and many domestic enterprises have expanded production. China Business Industry Research Institute data show that in 2022, China’s EVA total production capacity reached 2.15 million tons/year, the total output of about 1.6755 million tons, consumption of about 2.7661 million tons, self-sufficiency rate of 60.7%, the global POE capacity of about 1.08 million tons, China’s POE demand for 692,000 tons, an increase of 8.09%. Imported POE 692,000 tons, an increase of 8.09%.

It is worth noting that at present, POE core technology is temporarily controlled by foreign enterprises, there is no large-scale POE production enterprises in China, and the global POE production capacity is mainly concentrated in the hands of a few enterprises such as Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, SK and Mitsui Chemical. Zhiyan consulting data show that in the global POE production capacity, Dow Chemical production capacity accounts for about 42%, is the world’s largest POE producer; Exxonmobil and SK both have 190,000 tons of production capacity, accounting for 19%. Mitsui Chemical has 170,000 tons of POE capacity, accounting for about 16% of capacity.

According to Foster, this year is expected to POE class (POE film and EPE film) film shipments accounted for 40% to 50%, is expected to be 800 million to 1 billion square meters, with TOPCon component packaging part of the EPE film material, is expected to POE particles supply tension can be alleviated.

Previously, due to the verification of modified silicone full lamination process instead of EVA and POE film lamination process with photovoltaic leaders, Jinfu technology has attracted attention in the photovoltaic circle, and the reporter of the Daily Economic News also interviewed Chairman Gu Qing after the company’s 2022 annual shareholders’ meeting.

According to Gu Qing, photovoltaic companies are very interested in introducing new technologies to reduce industry-wide costs. Among them, the photovoltaic film can not be separated from EVA and POE two materials, but EVA is easy to acidify when it encounters water, causing corrosion to welding tape, welding wire, glass, etc., thus affecting the life of the component; Secondly, the original laminating process requires that the film has a certain thickness, and the second is that it will lead to some solder joints or welding strips hidden cracks, resulting in bad losses; In addition, there is always a gap between the film and the battery, and there are still several times of refraction and reflection of the light in the micro.

“Our advantages are that the theoretical transmittance of optical silicone can reach 99%, which is 7 percentage points more than EVA; Second, compared with the laminating process, the coating process reduces energy consumption and the amount of glue used, and the thickness of the adhesive layer can be designed according to different products and the height of the solder joint. Third, the vacuum full laminating process can avoid hidden cracks caused by the laminating process and simplify the subsequent detection process.” Gu Qing said.

Gu Qing said that after several rounds of joint verification with photovoltaic leader Tongwei Shares (600438), Aixu Shares and other enterprises, Tongwei recognized the possibility that the company’s modified silicone full lamination process can reduce the manufacturing cost of components and simplify the process, and also believes that this direction is correct, but there are still many problems in the process that need to be solved reasonably by both sides. For example, the solution of material permeability, the simplification of production lines, and the improvement of processing speed.

Among them, the first is the water permeability of modified silica gel, the company needs to continuously develop and verify new solutions, according to a solution test takes 5 days to calculate, the company currently considers more than a dozen solutions still need months to complete the test, and then there are good process, cost efficiency balance and other aspects of the demonstration.

The second is the simplification of the production line, the company’s original flexible production line can process screens of different sizes from mobile phones to large displays, but it is not suitable for the single-size production line of photovoltaic industry cells, and the company needs to simplify the production line to reduce amortization of fixed assets.

The third is the improvement of processing speed, because the company’s previous production line has no mandatory speed requirements, the processing speed of the large display screen is only one piece a minute, but the photovoltaic cell sheet is very fast, requiring the glue production line speed to reach 15 seconds, which requires the company to redesign the suitable production line.

“At present, the material research and development has no substantial obstacles, the biggest difficulty is the adaptation and improvement of the production line, according to the new process of manufacturing photovoltaic modules also need to be verified by various actual conditions, is expected to take 4 to 6 months.” Gu Qing said.

Silicon material price reduction: Industry market impact?

Does the rapid price reduction of silicon material mean that the research and development of high-cost and high-tech photovoltaic new materials and new processes will stall?

In addition, in the face of the booming photovoltaic new materials and new processes, will the current “old materials” and “old processes” be eliminated by the industry wave?

The above problems are obviously worth the attention of the industry.

Dr. Fan Bin, chairman of GCL-Kunshan, said that the material characteristics and production process of perovskite have led to many different needs for the auxiliary materials required for crystalline silicon cells, such as only using POE film, glass will be changed to float glass, no longer need to solder tape, silver paste, etc. “If the laminates become the mainstream of the market, then the crystalline silicon industry will not be eliminated, will continue to survive.”

Dr. Jiang Weilong, vice president of Pole-electric Light Energy, said that under the pull of new technologies such as perovskite, TOPCon, HJT, there is a demand for product lightweight, low-temperature packaging technology, such as the application of glass fiber, polyurethane composite materials to make the frame is indeed for weight reduction, reduce transportation costs, improve the installation and handling efficiency plays a positive role; At the same time, the use of modified silica gel full laminating process to replace EVA and POE laminating process to reduce the impact of high temperature packaging, which also has a positive effect.

China Boulder certification Shen Guoming analysis that in the current photovoltaic module enterprises “inner volume” of the present, downstream manufacturers pay more attention to cost, pay attention to composite materials, from the perspective of the whole industry chain, the production of glass fiber frame power consumption, carbon emissions than aluminum frame is lower, naturally more advantages.

Foster said that silicone materials due to cost-effective reasons, in the field of photovoltaic packaging has not been large-scale application, the company in 2016 carried out a new project development of silicone packaging materials, when it was mainly used in high-end LED packaging, later due to market changes did not continue to promote the project.

However, the process has also accumulated silicone technology platform, the future if silicone materials can be applied in the field of photovoltaic module packaging, the company can quickly carry out production.

In the interview process, many business managers believe that cost reduction and efficiency is a consistent business strategy of the photovoltaic industry, and even if the cost of electricity is only reduced by 1 cent per watt, enterprises are happy to see its success, and this must be inseparable from the landing of new photovoltaic materials and new processes.


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