Lithuanian solar cell and PV module manufacturer, Solitek, a unit of the biggest ophthalmic prescription lenses and CD/DVD manufacturer in the Scandinavia region, Global BOD Group, is planning to increase its solar cell production capacity at its Vilnius facility, and to open a new solar module factory in the Ukraine.
In a conversation with pv magazine, Global BOD Group Chairman of the Board, Vidmantas Janulevičius has revealed that PV cell production capacity at the company‘s Lithuanian factory will be raised from around 80 MW, to 180 MW by the end of 2018. Furthermore, Janulevičius added that production will be converted from poly BSF cells to bifacial cells, with plans to later switch to manufacturing of IBC ZEBRA cells.
Janulevičius said that Solitek, which already operates a 60 MW solar module production line at its facility in Vilnius, will also open another factory of the same size by the end of next summer in Kirovohrad Oblast, in Central Ukraine, to cover demand for local projects.
In accordance, Solitek plans to expand sales in Central and Eastern Europe. Traditionally most of the company’s sales are made in Scandinavian countries, Germany and other European markets.
Janulevičius stated that, although Solitek modules can be between 10% and 15% more expensive than modules imported from Asia, “support and service-oriented European customers are still preferring made in EU PV components.”
When asked if European solar manufacturers will again be able to compete with Chinese and Asian manufacturing giants, Janulevičius explained that Solitek works in a premium segment of the market, and does not intend to directly compete with Asian mass-market production.
Furthermore, he explained that the production‘s automation may play a decisive role in the future, as it is an important factor in reducing manpower costs, while maintaining high production quality.
At its Vilnius factory, which was built in 2013, Solitek currently produces Poly C-Si and Mono C-Si glass-glass modules, both for regular and BIPV applications. Modules produced at the facility range in power from 270W to 345W.
The company’s unit Solitek R&D is currently actively participating in two research projects, the H2020 program and the CABRISS project. Both projects focus on a circular economy model development in the solar industry, based on technological and business model innovations.