SPE: Congratulations. LONGI just announced last week an impressive world record for crystalline silicon based PERC solar cells.
GM: We are very happy that our R&D team was able to improve our former PERC solar cell record from October 2017 to 23.6%, a level that is close to the world record for any single junction c-Si cell technology. We completely focus on high-efficiency monocrystalline technology, which according to our analysis provides investors with the best levelled cost of electricity (LCOE).
In the last five years, we have spent between 5-7% of our total revenues in R&D, probably more than almost any other solar company, as we are striving to contribute in making solar the lowest generation source not only in a few regions but basically anywhere on this planet. We are currently quickly expanding production capacities of our new mono PERC bifacial module technology, which improves system output between 10 and 30% depending on location.
SPE: LONGi Solar makes cells and sells modules, but primarily you are a wafer manufacturer?
GM: A solar cell and module can be only as good as the incoming wafer substrate. At the end of last year, we had 15 GW mono wafer capacity – and around 50% of our capacity output we distribute to other cell/module manufacturers.
With developers’ interest in high-efficiency mono crystalline quickly increasing – and by many analysts expected to become the leading crystalline silicon variety soon, we have just announced to increase our capacity to 45 GW by 2020. And also at that level, we plan to offer around half of our wafer products on the open market to provide other cell/module manufacturers with top quality mono wafers.
SPE: Your main production is in China. But you are also expanding abroad…
GM: Well, China is by far the largest and most lucrative market. So it makes sense to have most of the manufacturing where most of the demand is. But the LONGi Group is constantly looking for new investment opportunities abroad as well if they make economic sense.
Last year, in Malaysia, we acquired a wafer manufacturing facility and also set up a vertically-integrated gigawatt-level modules production. Just recently, we announced to build 1 GW cell and 1 GW module production capacity in India, which is growing very fast and is now the world’s third largest market.
SPE: What does the European market mean for LONGi?
GM: Europe has been playing a crucial role in helping solar to become the most attractive power generation source globally. We have started partnering with European developers, distributors and cell manufacturers, offering high-quality wafers and modules to enable lower LCOEs so solar can grow faster in this very competitive power sector in Europe.
As the European Union has been working hard on its homework to master the energy transition towards a clean and flexible power market, we are upbeat on the future of solar in Europe. In a first step, we are building up our European sales and service office. As a highest-category sponsor member of SolarPower Europe we are actively supporting the critical work of the association for the European solar sector.
If solar demand in Europe would grow significantly and sustainable and framework conditions were economically attractive, we would be also looking into further investments, like we did in India.
Michael Schmela, Executive Advisor
Michael is a real sunnybloke, working in solar for 20 years, that’s basically his entire working life. Besides managing TaiyangNews, he runs MISCHCO, a company offering strategy consulting and communication services to solar companies.As of Feb. 2015, Michael is the Executive Advisor to the CEO of SolarPower Europe, the European association of the solar power sector. As of Dec. 2015, he is also Executive Advisor to the Chairman of the Global Solar Council, which currently is chaired by SolarPower Europe and includes the world’s leading national and regional solar lobby associations.After co-founding Photon-Magazine in 1996, he served in various positions in the Photon group, among others as Editor-in-Chief of Photon International.Michael studied Geology at Bonn University and RWTH Aachen, and Mineralogy at Frankfurt University.
A world leading mono-crystalline solar module manufacturer for achieving best LCOE (levelized cost of electricity) solutions.LONGi Solar is a world leading manufacturer of high-efficiency mono-crystalline solar cells and modules. LONGI Solar focused on Mono for 18 years and is the largest supplier of mono-crystalline silicon wafers in the world, with total assets above 2.7 billion.(2016) It also plans to have 45GW mono-crystalline wafer production capacity by the year 2020.
Armed and powered by the advanced technology and long standing experience of LONGi Group in the field of mono-crystalline silicon, LONGi Solar has shipped approximately4.5GW products in 2017 with over 100% rate of growth in three consecutive years. The Company has its headquarters in Xi’an and branches in Japan, Europe, North America, India, Malaysia, Australia and Africa.
With strong focus on R&D, production and sales & marketing of mono-crystalline silicon products, LONGi Solar is committed to providing the best LCOE solutions as well as promoting the worldwide adoption of mono-crystalline technology.