“By 2050, 100% of global electricity demand could be met from renewable energy sources, 68% from solar energy,” Zhenguo Li, founder and CEO of Chinese solar manufacturer Longi told London's Future of Energy Summit earlier this month. “This was the result of a German-Finnish study. Our calculations show that in the medium term, 1 TW of PV capacity would have to be installed annually if population growth and the improvement of quality of life were to be taken into account. After 30 years … solar modules will have to be replaced by new ones. So the solar market is far from getting saturated.”
In the year 2000, globally installed PV capacity was 100 MW – it rose to more than 100 GW by 2017.
Solar will be cheapest energy source
“In some regions of the world, a kWh of solar power already costs less than two [U.S.] cents, for example in the Middle East and Latin America. Solar energy is on its way to becoming the cheapest energy source in the world. Together with energy storage, I consider it to be the ultimate energy solution for mankind.” Li added.
In order to make solar power as inexpensive as possible, Longi Solar is investing more than any other manufacturer in the development of monocrystalline high-efficiency technologies. In the first half of 2018, Longi Solar invested $105 million in research and development, equivalent to 7.18% of the company's revenue. Longi Solar employs 500 people in R&D and holds 260 technology patents. This enabled the manufacturer to break the PERC cell efficiency record several times in 2017.
The product portfolio includes bifacial modules as well as modules with half cells and next-generation PERC mono modules that use other high-efficiency technologies.
From start-up to world leader
Li founded Longi with fellow students in 2000. At that time, Longi was a small semiconductor ingot and wafer manufacturer. After Germany announced its feed-in tariff in 2004, Longi concentrated on solar energy. Seven years later, the company was the world's largest manufacturer of monocrystalline wafers, and from 2014 also produced solar cells and modules. Longi will reach 28 GW of wafer capacity by the end of the year, and 45 GW by 2020. Module production capacity is expected to reach 20 GW by 2020.