Author Amy Fang
Updated May 25, 2022
Intersolar Europe returned to Munich this year after taking a hit from the Covid-19 pandemic. This year saw significantly more attendees and robust order inquiries, as InfoLink team observed. Production capacities of Tier-1 vertically integrated companies are fully booked from this to the first half of next year. Some small-sized manufacturers failed to acquire modules from Tier-1 manufacturers and thus turned to their Tier-2 counterparts. Vigorous activities affect prices on the spot market. Doubled with fluctuating exchange rates, spot prices surged in Europe, coming in above USD 0.28-0.30/W.

While the trade show was abuzz with recent developments of international trading, US-China trade war, and the rise of India-made products, discussions on expanding manufacturing overseas and “made in Europe” came into spotlight, for not only the U.S. and India saw foreign companies adding manufacturing operations, Europe also seeks independence from PV manufacturing. 

Many manufacturers consider completing their local supply chains. Local module makers in Europe are also sourcing raw materials suppliers outside of China, such as polysilicon, wafer, and BOM. However, China dominates materials supplies, while manufacturing in Europe incurs high labor and electricity costs. Moreover, building a cell supply chain in Europe would require high equipment capex. Cost reduction remains one of the biggest challenges for Europe. 

Europe expects to form a wafer, cell, and module production hub with 20 GW of capacity by 2025. However, only a few manufacturers have begun to work on expansion projects. Actual order volume of manufacturing equipment seems to make no progress. Whether local manufacturing will see headway in the future hinges on supportive policies from the EU.

On the product side, this year’s event saw displays of mainstream PERC modules and quite a few n-type product launches. Europe can be a pioneering market for n-type modules, owing to its enormous demand, high price acceptance, and the need for products with low carbon footprints. InfoLink team observed that n-type products are still in the early phase of promotion. Chinese manufacturers mostly use pricing as competitive advantage against PERC modules. Higher power output and conversion performance in a dark room brought by n-type products also encourages the adoption of end users. At present, there’s a price difference of USD 0.01-0.02/W between TOPCon and PERC and the gap is narrowing, while that between HJT and PERC varies from USD 0.01 to USD 0.05/W in accordance with manufacturers’ strategies. N-type technology development and application will be accelerated if Europe gradually adopts n-type products. Shipment volume of n-type products is expected to grow in 2023.

Intersolar Europe 2022 has drawn to a close. The Russia-Ukraine conflict accentuates the imperative of energy transition. The event saw a gradual shift in demand, prices, and solar projects. The most-hit household electricity rate amid skyrocketing energy prices in Europe stimulates the growth of distributed generation PV. Utility-scale ground-mounted projects, on the other hand, dominate the Southern European market. Overall, Europe may see module demand rise to 40-50 GW this year.