In Exclusive Talk With Mr. Sven Kramer Vice President Sales Solar Technology, teamtechnik Group
- What is Your Opinion on the AntiDumping Petition, its possible impact on the Indian solar market
Kramer: The Indian Solar Manufacturers Association (ISMA) has initiated the anti-dumping petition. We have to wait and see what the investigation will find out. In my opinion a fair competition is required. In case an anti-dumping tariff will be introduced it will help the local Indian manufacturer on the one hand side. On the other hand it will also affect them since many cells are imported from China, Taiwan or Malaysia. At the end the prices for solar modules will increase which will make solar energy less attractive and it might result in not achieving the 100 GW target by 2022.
- How and when is it likely to be resolved
Kramer: Every investigation will take its time. And it is also important that the investigation is performed thoroughly and with correct data. If any anti-dumping tariffs will be implemented it is also very important that the situation will be reviewed on a regular basis.
- In your view….how much dumping is happening on cells/modules and what is the expectations from the Government
Kramer: It is difficult to say how much dumping is happening. The Indian Solar Manufacturers Association (ISMA) has most probably some evidence. Otherwise they would have not started the petition. On the one hand the government has to make thorough investigation. On the other hand it should not take too long to leave too much doubt and too much room for speculation.
- What is the Suggestion to the Government of India & China
Kramer: An open and fair competition is required from every country. India and China should talk to overcome the topic soon.
- What are the current prices of Cells and Modules and what is the foreseeable prices in next one year time frame
Kramer: Based on my knowledge the current world market price for crystalline solar modules is around 0,30 – 0,35 US$ /W. It is very difficult to forecast a module price. From beginning of 2016 until beginning of 2017 there has been a price reduction of 35%. Looking at the published results of the stock listed solar companies, the companies have less profits or even losses. The price reduction cannot be compensated by reducing the costs which results in less profit or even losses. For a sustainable industry the price should stay at the same level. Otherwise we will see a similar scenario as in 2012 which resulted in shakeout of the worldwide solar industry.
- What are the biggest Challenges, Threats to the growth of Solar in India
Kramer: Local manufacturing has to be increased to increase the share of locally manufactured solar modules in India. This will help the solar industry and it will build a strong basis for a wider acceptance of solar energy in India. If more jobs in the manufacturing sector will be created, each state will support the 100 GW target even more. At the same time local companies have to invest in highly automated equipment to be competitive with solar module producers worldwide.
Equipment, Technology & Materials Manufacturers & Suppliers
- Please describe in brief about your company, directors, promoters, investors, its vision & mission
Kramer: Today, teamtechnik group is Germany’s largest owner-managed company in the field of assembly and test equipment. We are independent and therefore highly flexible. For the global photovoltaic industry the company has specialized on high-throughput stringer machines. These high-performance production tools are designed to combine reliable 24/7 production with excellent quality. teamtechnik is therefore a global market leader in this segment. The company employs 900 people around the world and has production and support sites in Germany, Poland, China and the USA. Teamtechnik-group concentratesits efforts on three sectors: Solar, Automotive and Medtech. All Stringer Systems TT2100 and TT4200GIGA are manufactured at our headquarters in Freiberg, Germany close to Stuttgart in the Southwest of Germany. Together with our worldwide partners we support our customers all around the globe.A key new business area is also assembly and test lines for e-mobility solutions and batteries.
- Solar Trade Wars : What are the benefits to Indian manufacturers
Kramer: Nobody will win with a trade war. Protection is required if unfair competition is in the market. Unfair is for example if the selling price of solar modules are below the costs of materials. But there is an economy of scale. It will be difficult for a small manufacturer to compete with a big GW manufacturer which might be even vertically integrated. So certain protection and support is required to establish a solar manufacturing base in India.
- Technology road map in terms of 1500V , Double Glass, BiFacial Cells, PERC/PERT Technologies, Hetero Junction, 5-6 Busbars upcoming game changes technologies etc…
Kramer: All of the above can be processed with teamtechnik equipment. All of our Stringers can process Bi-facial cells (if they can be soldered which depends on the paste used during the solar cell manufacturing process). If you use a bi-facial cell, then of course you have a double-glass design. One important item so far not many people paid attention to is the ribbon position on the back side of the cell. Since we use our patented hold-down devices in combination with our vacuum transport system on our Stringers we can achieve a very precise ribbon positioning, not only on the front side but also on the back side of the cell. With a double-glass module you will see of course also the ribbon on the back side which is, with a conventional glass-backsheet module, normally covered up by the backsheet. The interesting question will be, how will solar module manufacturer measure the efficiency of the backside of the module with a bi-facial module. You can achieve approx. 10 % to 20% higher power output. But of course it depends on where the module will be installed and how much sun light will be reflected onto the backside.
Our customers are using more and more PERC and PERT cells. Our Stringers are design to process them without any issues. Also 5 and 6 busbars can be processed.
We do not think that the number of busbars will increase above 6. We have performed a research study together with the SERIS institute of the University in Singapore. Simulations showed that the power increase from 6 to 7 busbars is minimal and it does not account for the higher cost of the materials and for having one additional ribbon within the module.
In regards to the HJT technology we have to see if and when more manufacture will invest in the technology. We have developed a stringer tool which can interconnect the cells using electrically conductive adhesive (ECA), our TT1400ECA, but so far there are not a high number of available HJT cells in the market. In my opinion this is due to the higher efficiency of the PERC and PERT cells and that existing lines can be retrofitted for the PERC technology.
- What are the trends in new manufacturing technology equipment, materials, processes, innovations etc…
See No. 3
- Whats is your market share in the solar pv manufacturing market
Kramer: teamtechnik has more than 750 stringer systems in the market and more than 25GWp of solar modules are produced every year on teamtechnik stringer systems. So far we have supplied more than 2 GW of stringer production capacity to India in the last 15 months.
- What are the various technologies available for manufacturing and whats the advantage & disadvantage in the tech or equipment you offer ?
Kramer: We offer our Stringer System TT4200 GIGA and TT2100. In addition we can provide our Layup System matching the capacity of the Stringer Systems. The TT4200 GIGA is designed for customers with a production capacity with more than 250 MW. It is a compact system with a high production capacity. The soldering process itself is the same with the TT4200 GIGA and the TT2100. At the end of the day our customers have to decide which solution they prefer, depending on available space, production capacity and required redundancy.
For high efficient Hetero-Junction Solar Cells (HJT) we also have our TT1400ECA in our product portfolio. With this technology we connect the solar cells with a light trapping ribbon (LCR) and an Electrically Conductive Adhesive (ECA). This allows us to process cells at a lower temperature of approx. 150 ºC or 160 ºC. With the soldering process a temperature around 190 ºC to 210 ºC is required. Since HJT cells are more sensitive for the temperature and some cells will reduce their power output at higher soldering temperatures we can provide a solution to customers who are interested in producing the next generation of solar modules.
- Technology Obsolesence : What solution you offer to your customers against possible future technology obsolescence when they buy your equipment
Kramer: Our current systems are highly flexible and can easily be upgraded to new developments like 6 busbars and a wide range of new cell and ribbon types. Also stringer systems which have been supplied several years ago, such as the TT1200HS, TT1600 or TT1800 can be upgraded to 5 busbars. The stringer system was designed for the processing of 2, 3 or 4 busbar cells. Our engineers found a way to upgrade them to 5 busbars so that our customers can process these cells as well on our stringer systems. With the higher number of busbars the ribbons are getting narrower. Our latest stringer generations TT4200GIGA and TT2100 can handle ribbons with a width of only 0,6 mm.
As another item I would like to add that our stringer systems can be upgraded for the processing of light trapping ribbons (LTR). These ribbons have a special structure embossed to increase the reflection of the sunlight hitting the ribbons in order to increase the power output of the solar module. This also enables our customers to increase the power output by 2.5 to 2.8%.
Overall I have to say that customers using teamtechnik stringers are ready for the future and can rely on our technology and our support.
- What is the efficiency, costs, roadmap of solar pv modules/cells
Kramer. This is a question for the solar cell and solar module manufacturer.
- Please present some examples of your equipment & technologies in India and worldwide and their performance
Kramer: One example, Vikram Solar, Indian manufacturer of photovoltaic systems, has decided to work with teamtechnik to expand its production to manufacture enough solar modules to generate 2 GW, up from 500 MW. teamtechnik has been given the job of developing and constructing production lines for producing these solar modules. For Vikram Solar, teamtechnik’s worldwide service network was a decisive factor in choosing the company, alongside the technical benefits of teamtechnik’s stringer and layup solutions.
At Vikram, for example, it was important to integrate the relatively novel, but highly effective PERC cells and bifacial cells in the production process. It was no problem for us.
Another example is Renewsys. Renewsys has purchased from us last year 2 x TT2100 Stringer Systems. This year we have supplied our TT4200GIGA Stringer to Renewsys increasing the module production capacity from 130 MWp to 260 MWp.
- What is the future of solar manufacturing technologies
Kramer: We are currently seeing a trend towards 5 busbars. By increasing the number of busbars the resistance losses can be reduced. Based on our research and development work with the SERIS Institute at the University in Singapore we know that the maximum number of busbars will be 6. You can of course increase the number of busbars further, but based on the simulation performed by the SERIS Institute the power gain achieved after 6 busbars is only minimal.
- India currently has around 1.2 GW Cell Manufacturing and 5GW of Module Manufacturing…..what is the opportunities, challenges in manufacturing in India
Kramer: India is expanding their manufacturing base. It is the correct decision of the government in India to support local manufacturing. Only with a local manufacturing base the solar energy can be more widespread in India because more and more people are supporting it. Our customers are facing several challenges. One is the availability of raw materials and local manufactured solar cells. In addition financing the equipment is a challenge.
- Why India doesn’t have any wafer or polysilicon or ingots manufacturing ?
- What the expectations from the Government to boost manufacturing in India
Kramer: It was a wise decision by the Indian government to set a target of installed PV capacity of 100 GW by 2022. You always need an ambitious target. At the same time you will provide a certain security to local companies that they can sell their local manufactured solar modules in India. Supporting the local companies with either a higher feed-in tariff for local manufactured solar modules, investment support such as financing support or support for setting up a new factory, will lead to a bigger solar module manufacturing base in India.
- WTO Case : India recently lost to USA in the WTO for keeping DCR mandate in its solar projects…whats your views
Kramer: A domestic content requirement (DCR) will help and support local solar module manufacturer. Due to economy of scale, smaller manufacturer will not have the same sourcing or manufacturing costs. In my opinion there should be a DCR to create jobs and help solar module manufacturer in India.
- Enlighten with some new orders in hand, its timelines
Kramer: At the SNEC in Shanghai we have announced that Renewsys has decided on our Stringer TT4200GIGA. The equipment is installed at Renewsys and in operation. At the upcoming REI show in Mumbai we will have another announcement coming.
- What is the key competitive advantages for your customers who choose to buy your equipment and technology
Kramer: In one statement: Extremely high output of 130 MWp on just 15 m². The Stringer TT4200 Giga is the most compact, yet fastest, stringer system in the world.
Customers are confirming availabilities of over 98% for all of our systems. teamtechnik stringers have a flexible machine architecture and therefore they are always upgradable for future cell or ribbon technologies. All of our stringers use contact-free infrared soldering technology which makes the hight system output possible while minimizing the breakage rate.
- What are the various inspection, testing, verification, assurance technologies to ensure high quality manufacturing and various certification requirements
Kramer:teamtechnik is certified according to ISO 9001:2008. At our factory our processes and our incoming materials will be inspected and we ensure that only good components are used within our machines and systems. Every stringer system is tested first internally and then together with our customers to ensure that exact the material which shall be produced at a later time is working with the correct machine settings. Together with our customers we perform peel-force tests, EL tests of the produced strings as well as measurements of throughput and dimensions to verify the correct and exact configuration and settings. During the manufacturing process at our customers each incoming cell is inspected by a camera system and the dimensions, busbar position, grid completeness and many more items are checked. During the soldering process we measure the temperature of each cell and we adjust the power output of our Infrared Light Soldering Module to ensure each cell is processed with the same temperature achieving the same good soldering result. After the installation of our machines we train our customer’s operators and maintenance personnel. This will enable our customers to run with a high uptime and a high yield.
- India is currently ramping up manufacturing capacities…how much capacity addition do you forecast ?
Kramer: Forecasting is always difficult. But personally I see a big potential in India. Solar Energy can be installed within a short period of time. The costs for solar modules have been reduced over the last few years a lot and therefore solar energy is competitive with fossil fuels. India is one of the fastest growing economies and a lot of additional energy will be required in the next few years. Solar will be able to provide clean energy to the big cities in India as well as to rural areas. So I personally hope that more solar energy will be added in order to keep the air clean or cleaner in India. The existing companies in India will expand their manufacturing capacities and new players will enter the market. On the solar module manufacturing side I see a potential of 10 GW to 15 GW of production capacity within the next few years in India.