Royal DSM, the Dutch firm that is active in health, nutrition and materials, has acquired the technology and other assets of the China-based Suzhou SunShine New Materials Technology Co Ltd (Sunshine) – the manufacturer of a novel, high-performance solar photovoltaic (PV) backsheet based on co-extrusion technology.
In 2016, DSM entered into a commercial alliance with Sunshine. Now, through this acquisition, DSM will expand its product portfolio for the solar PV market to include polymer sheets that protect PV solar cells.
Solar energy has become an important source in the global energy mix over the past decade. However, for solar energy to reach grid parity and become globally more cost-competitive with energy from fossil fuels, the levelised cost of energy (LCOE) of solar PV needs to be reduced. Polymer backsheets are essential to the performance of solar PV modules: they increase both the modules’ durability and output (kWh). Building on the success of its industry-leading anti-reflective coating, DSM now aims to commercialise a portfolio of innovations focused on lowering the cost of solar energy by providing solid, durable and sustainable materials solutions.
China is the world’s largest producer of photovoltaic modules and also has the greatest demand for PV backsheet coatings. According to Jianguo Wu, director of CPVT, China’s solar module production rose from 43 GW in 2015 to more than 75 GW in 2016 – and is expected to exceed 100 GW towards the end of China’s 13th Five-year Plan (2020). This steep growth underpins the very promising prospects for China’s solar PV industry.
Against this backdrop, new technologies have emerged for the Solar PV market, resulting in high-performance backsheets at affordable cost. With this technology acquisition, DSM embraces a new generation of innovative, adhesive – and non-fluorinated backsheets – balancing the needs of the rapidly developing PV industry with the need to protect the environment through sustainable products.