China-based crystalline silicon solar cell makers have kept changing suppliers of PV silver paste in order to find the best materials for their production, according to PV industry sources in Taiwan.
Japan-based maker Dowa Hightech, the world’s biggest silver powder maker, saw production drastically decrease following an accident at its factory in January 2016, resulting in short global supply of the material, the sources said. While Dowa Hightech has restored 60-70% of normal production, its supply is still short of demand, the sources noted.
Because of the short supply from Dowa, many PV silver paste makers have blended silver powder from Dowa and other suppliers to make PV silver paste, the sources indicated. However, the quality of blended silver powder varies, affecting the manufacturing of solar cells, prompting China-based solar cell makers to keep changing supply sources of silver paste, the sources explained.
Dowa Hightech is unlikely to completely restore silver powder production until third-quarter 2016 and therefore use of blended silver powder will continue until then, the sources indicated.