At the first practical workshop of PV Experts, the overriding conclusion reached was that smaller German photovoltaic manufacturers in particular, will only be able to compete in the global marketplace through greater cooperation amongst themselves, material manufacturers, mechanical engineers and other industry participants.
The pressure on costs for European and German solar module manufacturers is enormous. This became clear during the course of the workshop.
In contrast to their Chinese competitors, these photovoltaic manufacturers are often not fully integrated, and thus have to master quality requirements and the processes of adjusting their production to new materials and machines with a "smaller profit margin," as Alexander Blauärmel of Aleo Solar, for example, reports.
Therefore, an important possibility when it comes to surviving the competition consists in better cooperation and greater exchange of experience with suppliers, as well as more intensive cooperation between the module manufacturers themselves.
The workshop of PV Experts provided several practical thoughts to this end, for instance, in the area of encapsulation materials during the workshop discussions it became clear that optimization of the encapsulation for module wiring boxes is also required.
Material manufacturers such as Lanxess and module manufacturers like Solon now plan to exchange more ideas and information in this area, as Nande von Aken, Director Production Engineering at Solon SE and Michael Herrmann, Manager Technical Service at Lanxess Deutschland GmbH declared, as a result of the workshop.
A further practical step is the establishment of a purchasing and sales syndicate for smaller German and European module manufacturers.
PV Experts now plans to advance this idea in a concrete manner, "also in order to ensure the survival of our own customers," said Thomas Schmidt.
Watch out for the July edition of pv magazine, which will address the subject in more depth.