The 3-day exhibition attracted more than 10,000 local and foreign visitors from over 60 countries worldwide, and it was evident that business negotiations were going on everywhere throughout the venue. The Taiwan International Photovoltaic Forum was held at the same time. During the forum, experts and industry leaders all made predictions that the photovoltaic market is about to enter a phase of steady growth.
Renowned for its R&D expertise and product quality in high technology industries, Taiwan was once again ranked the second largest producer of PV cells in the world. Nevertheless, the PV market ran into uncertainties in the second half of the year and everyone is now awaiting an economic upturn. Vendors also hoped to use the exhibition to gauge next year's market trends and make advanced preparations. All of these factors helped reinforce PV Taiwan's importance as one of Asia's leading PV events. This year, a total of 286 exhibitors took part in PV Taiwan with 806 booths, an increase of 30% over last year and clear proof that Taiwan has a thriving PV industry.
Highlights at this year's show that attracted attention included the world's first "Dye Sensitized Solar Cell" (DSSC) area as well as the "PV Cell/Module/System Area," both are areas in which Taiwan excels. Dr. Kevin Chou, the Vice President of Everlight Chemical, has long been involved in the development of dye sensitization technology and said the show provided an excellent platform for international buyers. Many new customers contacted the company to inquire about Everlight's products and technologies. Dr. Frank O’Young, the Vice Chairman of Sunner Solar, said that the company's production lines have been running at full capacity since Q3 last year. Because the company's new thin film PV cells with color and laser etched designs have been well-received by the market, the company has been relatively immune to economic fluctuations. By taking part in the show, Sunner Solar hoped to introduce its products to more customers. Industry leaders Motech and Neo Solar Power all reported steady business growth due to continued investment in new products. In the future, they plan to seek new partners in emerging markets, such as India, in order to gain early footholds in those markets.
The "High Concentration Photovoltaic" (HCPV) area made a return this year and its improving conversion efficiency attracted the interest of many buyers. Mr. Eric Chen, the CEO & President of Everphoton, continues to be optimistic about the future of the HCPV market. HCPV's heat resistance means they are well-suited to dry areas that receive plenty of sunshine. The smaller footprint means HCPV has drawn the interest of many island nations. Chen also noted that PV Taiwan not only increased in scale this year, but it has also become a venue for unveiling new technologies, proof of the show's importance to the global PV industry.
The 15 new product and technology launches and the dozens of industry papers presented during the show provided the perfect platform for learning about the latest technological developments and applications. Many visitors show their interest on these presentations. The results of university research and commercial products put into mass production, facilitated by the vendors, represent the progress of Taiwan's PV industry. The talented researchers and vendors investing in R&D provide the Taiwanese PV industry with motivation to remain innovative and competitive. In the Application Products Area, smart energy-saving housing, PV windows, stained glass, energy-saving night-lights and alarm clocks, dengue fever solutions, smart lawn-mowing robots, and more were on display based on the “Smart Green Living" theme. All of these exhibits demonstrated the pleasures and possibilities of solar power in our daily lives to visitors.
This year's show was also filled with business opportunities and the organizers set up a total of 125 one-to-one procurement meetings. Approximately US$180 million in business deals were made at the show, demonstrating the immense potential of the PV market. The Department of Information and Tourism of Taipei City also offered 1-day MRT tickets and Taipei 101 observation deck tickets to foreign business visitors to allow them to experience the charms of Taipei outside of their business itinerary.
Since the beginning of the year, the global economic recession, the European debt crisis, excess capacity, and adjustments to subsidy policies have caused pricing pressure that has worked backward from PV products along the supply chain. Growth in the global PV market has begun to slow as well. While solar power is now firmly established as a key type of alternate energy in the long-term, the industry is facing its most severe market conditions in the short-term. This will undoubtedly have a major impact on the overall landscape of the industry. During the 2-day PV Taiwan Forum, major local and overseas PV firms including Motech, Neo Solar Power, TpSI, DelSolar, Delta Electronics, Everphoton, IBM, PASPAN, Sanyo, Oerlikon Solar, and Centrotherm all published their opinions and strategies for coping with this issue, providing the rest of the industry with an important guide to their own strategic planning. During the forum, the inter-disciplinary integration of systems and technologies was identified as the key to the development of solar power.
Dr. Robert Luor, the vice president of DelSolar, noted that PV system applications are now entering the commercialization and large-scale deployment phase. Engineering efficiency and the impact on conventional electrical systems have now become major issues. System installation challenges include the use of smart grid platforms, power transmission for large-scale PV plants, prediction and monitoring of conversion efficiency, as well as system operation and maintenance. A thorough and comprehensive approach to design including the modularization of power connections, grid connection technology, potential power output, and cost and construction evaluation will enable the realization of PV systems and establish a new milestone.
Dr. P. H. Chang, the CEO of Motech, said that solar power is a fast-growing industry that still grew at 30% during the 2009 global financial crisis. As a result, despite the German government's decision to reduce its PV subsidies, other countries such as the U.S. and many Asian countries are expected to bridge the gap in demand; the future remains bright for the PV industry. Chang emphasized that the situation will become even more difficult next year if capacity continues to expand. Weaker companies may find it impossible to survive and the industry can expect a wave of consolidations. The actions of Chinese manufacturers should therefore be monitored closely and Taiwan itself might see a consolidation of cell and module makers.
Chairman of Taiwan Polysilicon Corporation Ms. Christine Yang said that excess capacity has caused prices to plummet and made the year very difficult for the PV industry. Yang emphasized the need for greater discipline in the industry. The best market strategy might not be to expand capacity as much as possible, but to focus on technology and achieving economies of scale. Dr. Sam Hong, the president and COO of Neo Solar Power, believes that with advances in technology, as well as the continued drop in prices, we should see PV power reach grid parity in 2013. Despite the current market difficulties, Hong remains positive about the future growth of the PV industry.
With everyone waiting to see how the PV industry will develop, these observations from industry leaders not only help to strengthen market confidence, but also offer the industry new options. PV Taiwan provides the industry with an ideal platform for networking and purchasing. It also helps Taiwanese vendors take advantage of global market opportunities.
PV Taiwan 2012 will be held from October 3 to October 5, 2012. For more information about the exhibition and forum, please visit: www.pvtaiwan.com
Amy Chang, +886-2--27255200 # 2874