China: Heraeus opens revamped PV lab


HTMS President Zhouping Ai, and the company's Asian photovoltaic head Tobias Caspari were joined by Yingli CTO Dengyuan Song, JA Solar's Liu Yong and Talesun's Yan Xu at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

The importance of having a local presence and facilities for suppliers across the photovoltaic supply chain was on display in Shanghai today, with silver paste supplier Heraeus opening new revamped labs at its operations in the city. The German firm invited customers and local media to tour its new facilities and open them in an official ceremony.

The expanded Heraeus lab will be used to work with cell manufacturers to optimize processes, carry out quality testing and to optimize the application of Heraeus' silver paste products in photovoltaic wafers.

While today's event represented a milestone for Heraeus, like many firms along the photovoltaic supply chain, it too has experienced a downturn in terms of order volume. Speaking at the event Andy London, Global Manager of the Photovoltaics Business Unit at Heraeus, said that many industries have been through similar periods in their development but that it is only temporary.

"The first orders for Heraeus' products started coming in 2008, while we actually didn't start our Asian business unit until 2009," said Heraeus' Tobias Caspari at the event. "This new facility shows how important it is for us to serve the Chinese market from a local base."

The Heraeus facility will provide the opportunity for wafer manufacturers to test the pastes without having to stop production or make adjustments to their lines. This, said the family-owned firm's Andy London, is an advantage for local Chinese producers, adding that manufacturers should provide input as to what further printing tools Heraeus should equip the Shanghai testing facility.

Talesun representatives attended the event and Vice President Yan Xu told pv magazine that the key metrics for selecting photovoltaic suppliers was reputation, market insights and the potential for ongoing R&D development. When asked whether reputation of supplier was an important factor also she replied, "yes, of course."

Despite the trialing market conditions, Heraeus has continued its expansion into photovoltaics, additional to the new Shanghai facility. In February of this year Heraeus acquired the solar paste business of the Ohio-based Ferro Coproration, including the associated IP. Heraeus representatives told pv magazine today that much of the business of completing the acquisition and integrating the Ferro photovoltaics team into its activities had been completed.

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Edited by Vera von Kreutzbruck.

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