PV Taiwan: China, Japan and EPC hold the key

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More solar cell exports to Japan, greater collaboration with mainland China and developing Taiwanese expertise in engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) were among the topics dominating this year´s PV Taiwan tradeshow.

With 10,000 visitors in attendance, the show repeated last year’s success and exhibiting suppliers and equipment manufacturers told pv magazine of the benefits of attending with Heraeus’ Jörg Eckert describing the show as "very good".

"Lots of good contacts" resulted for Peter Spoor of Stork Prints, and there was "qualified interest" for Luan Kuqi from Meyer Burger. There were "lots of high level management visitors," according to Frank Tinnefeld from Schmid, while Asys representative Karl Schanz reported "interest in new technologies and capacity expansion."

Closer collaboration with China is a must, in upstream sourcing and downstream activity and this collaboration will benefit from the strength of the Taiwanese cell manufacturing sector.

Harnessing domestic market

Manufacturers could also benefit from the booming Japanese market in the wake of Fukushima but Sam Hong, Chairman of the Taiwan Photovoltaic Industry Association and President of Neo Solar Power, told pv magazine Taiwan needed to develop EPC experience as well as harness the underdeveloped domestic PV market.

On September 24, the Taipei government announced a US$240 million loan program to boost the international EPC activity of Taiwanese companies such as Neo Solar, which is conducting MW-scale EPC projects in the U.S. and on a smaller scale at home.

To date, the total installed PV capacity of the island is between 100 and 200 MW and the yearly cap for the FIT program, which started last year, is 100 MW.

Will Taiwanese companies be able to compete in the EPC sector of the industry or will they continue to rely on their strength as a manufacturing hub for the semiconductor, electronics and solar cell industry? That is a question left hanging. German company Heraeus believes the latter, having opened a manufacturing facility for silver pastes in Taipei just three days ago.

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