Dow seeks further opportunities in China’s PV encapsulant film market

At a media conference during SNEC 2016 in Shanghai, Mr. Michael Shoemaker, the Global Strategic Marketing Manager of Dow’s elastomers sector, said the company is planning on promoting its elastomers business, which focuses on the material of encapsulant film for PV modules, in the Chinese market, to coincide with the rapid development of China’s PV industry.

Distinct from EVA film material that is currently the most commonly used by PV module manufacturers, Dow wants to encourage Chinese film companies to use its ENGAGE POE. The company’s own study found that compared with EVA film, the film made with POEs, such as ENGAGE, offer better electrical performance, a lower water vapor transmission rate and longer weathering performance. Additionally, POEs can significantly reduce the Potential Induced Degradation (PID) and snail tail, and they fit well with N-type cell modules and double-glass modules, which are becoming more and more popular. The most important benefit of all, however, is the lower Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) and higher ROI for PV projects, which are key factors for PV investors.

Mr. Shoemaker did not disclose the possible additional costs of using POE-based film instead of EVA during the conference, however, reliable analysis from another industrial insider told pv magazine that the added cost for one PV module is usually around 3-5% of the total module price. Compared with the advantages and the added value that POE brings to its users, the price seems reasonable.

POE-based film is not as widely used as EVA and is still in it introductory stage to the market. There are not many companies that can supply this kind of chemical material for encapsulant film, but Dow Chemical is one of them. The company holds firm confidence in the possibilities within the Chinese market, and would like to expand its Chinese customer base. In preparation of the potential growth of the Asia-Pacific region, including China, Dow has already set up two giant manufacturing centers in Saudi Arabia and Thailand, and one R&D center in Shanghai, for quick response to the market and better access to its regional customers.

Dow Chemical Company is one of the largest chemical manufacturing companies in the world, with total revenues of US$48.8bn in 2015. The ENGAGE POE belongs to the elastomers business unit of its performance plastics sector, which is the largest business sector of Dow, contributing about 37.6% of the company’s total sales in 2015.