Market Survey Backsheets and Encapsulation 2019

After TaiyangNews published market surveys on backsheets in 2017 and in 2018, this edition includes also an overview on encapsulation products. This way, this survey combines the latest on polymers to protect the interconnected cell circuitry of a solar module.
For this first market survey on backsheets and encapsulation materials, we received responses from 14 companies that provided data for 96 products, of which 80 are backsheet models and 16 are for encapsulation. Thus, the backsheet part has grown strongly compared to the 61 products of last year’s survey with twocompanies providing their data for the first time – China’sLucky Group and Germany’s Bischof + Klein.
The current market of backsheet offers a wide choice of structures using a variety of polymers. A typical backsheet is a 3-layered structure, in which the PET corefilm is sandwiched by two protective layers. Based on thechemistry of the protective layers, the backsheets canbe categorized into two segments – fluoropolymer basedbacksheets, which contain at least one fluoropolymer film to protect the PET, the other category are non- fluoropolymer based backsheets that are free from halogen components.
When it comes to technology shares of backsheets, as in the past fluoropolymers are dominating the module back cover market, with PVDF ahead of PVF (Tedlar), and followed by glass, non-fluoro-based polyester and others. In the encapsulation field it is all about EVA,except for a small share of polyolefins.
The backsheet field continues to be dominated by twocompanies –Cybrid and Jolywood; in the encapsulation field it is one – Hangzhou First.
There have been many trends in recent years tooptimize the backsheet – using alternative polymers,primers or coatings for the outer and inner layers to cut on cost while striving to keep the protection features of the products. But now a company is coming up with a solution to replace the PET core layer with something that they say is cheaper and provides good qualitybut needs less material – a polypropylene basedsolution from a major chemical company. Though such backsheets have been available in the past, that was only as part of a complete backsheet product. Now Borealis is striving to enable the backsheet laminatorcompanies to make their own polypropylene film for thecore layer
While polypropylene for the core is just being introduced, another new backsheet product has reached the stage that leading module manufacturers are starting to usecommercially – and that is transparent backsheets forsolar’s hottest recent development, bifacial modules. So far, every module manufacturer has been using glass for the backside of its bifacial modules, but clear backsheets have some advantages. After DuPont introduced a new generation clear backsheet based on Tedlar last year, the world’s largest module manufacturer JinkoSolar has recently launched a bifacial module using a clear backsheet.
While polymers are competing with glass for the job of being the backsheet of choice, the polymer-based solution can also be tweaked to take over the mainapplication of glass in solar – a module’s front cover.While this idea is not new, there are new products for cell and module technologies to address “light weight” and BIPV applications.
The encapsulation market is much more consolidated than backsheets. The product of choice is EVA, which is supplied by a ‘handful’ of Chinese companies. Here, the major development is to employ on the rear side white EVA instead of a transparent film. This change is expected to improve module power by 1% due to improved optical gains. The only contender to EVA is polyolefin, but so far solely in the field of glass-glass modules, which, however, due to the rise of bifacial modules has been increasing its shares as of recently.
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About Ritesh Pothan

Ritesh Pothan, is an accomplished speaker and visionary in the Solar Energy space in India. Ritesh is from an Engineering Background with a Master’s Degree in Technology and had spent more than a decade as the Infrastructure Head for a public limited company with the last 9 years dedicated to Solar and Renewable Energy. He also runs the 2 largest India focused renewable energy groups on LinkedIn - Solar - India and Renewables - India
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