According to feedback from backsheet producers and our TaiyangNews research, Cybrid was once again the market leader of the backsheets for solar modules segment in 2019 with an estimated market share of 27%, followed by Jolywood with a 20% share. (Source: TaiyangNews)
- Cybrid remained top backsheet supplier in 2019 with shipments reaching 30 to 31 GW from 35 GW production capacity, according to TaiyangNews’ estimates
- Jolywood stood second with an anticipated market share of about 20%
- Hangzhou First and Lucky Film had equal market share of about 9%
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Today’s backsheet market offers a wide variety of structured and a large number of suppliers. However, a handful companies lead the segment considered crucial for long-term durability of solar modules. When it comes to shipments of individual suppliers, Cybrid shined through again last year. The Chinese company has been the top backsheet supplier since 2015. In 2019, Cybrid achieved a production rate of 15 million m2 per month, except for the Chinese New Year month of February, according to Eric Yang from the international sales department of the company. Shipments for the total year were between 30 and 31 GW, said Yang. These larger shipments are also facilitated by the company’s sophisticated manufacturing lines. According to Yang, the company brought in advanced machinery, internally known as one-step coating. The specialty of these machines is that the backsheet, while consisting of three layers, is made in one step. For example, the company’s champion KPf configuration can be made in one go by laminating the PVDF film onto the one side of the PET and simultaneously applying a coating on the cell side. Based on these machines, the company has installed eight manufacturing lines of 4.3 GW each, attaining an annual production capacity of about 35 GW.
Like in the previous year, cell, module and backsheet maker Jolywood takes the second spot in terms of backsheet shipments. According to Chad Yuan, the company’s sales reached 111.7 million m2 in 2019, equal to a 20% market share. He also provided the breakdown of shipments by technology – double-sided coating was close to 60 million m2and KPC was 50 to 55 million m2. Since Jolywood is also an important laminator of DuPont’s Tedlar product, the stream using Tedlar totaled 15 million m2, while vintage structures such as TPT and KPK that use fluoropolymers on both sides contributed 2 million m2.
The CPC configuration is no doubt an important production stream for the company. As for the targeted markets, Chad says that 70% of CPC products are used by domestic module makers, while the remaining 30% satisfies demand from overseas. However, this varies from market to market. For example, 100% of module makers in Vietnam use the CPC structure, explains Chad. On the other hand, while the 3-layer backsheet based on PET was the most used backsheet structure in India before 2018, Indian module makers are now increasingly shifting to the KPC structure.
ZTT, the Chinese component supplier turned backsheet maker, said it shipped 80 million m2 of backsheets to module makers, which is about 12 GW in the module power metric. The KPO structure accounted for about 70 to 80% of this shipment, which emphasizes the configuration’s standing as the main product for the company.
Hangzhou First, the global market leader in the module encapsulation business, also operates a backsheet supply business. According to its CEO, Daniel Zhou, while sales looked good with increasing volumes, fierce competition has affected price and profit margins. In 2019, the company shipped 53 million m2, roughly 10 GW, which means an about 95% utilization rate of its installed capacity of 55 to 60 million m2.
Lucky Film is another leading backsheet supplier from China and a strong supporter of the Tedlar-based backsheet configuration. While not providing shipment volumes, the company claimed to have a market share of 8 to 9%.
Coveme, the Italian pioneer in PET-based backsheets, has been facing severe competition from the PVDF stream. One of its main markets, India, is increasingly turning to PVDF based products. Yet, the company registered backsheet sales of 35 million m2 in 2019. While the first quarter of 2020 was good for the company in terms of demand, the second quarter was negatively impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19, as Coveme’s business is mainly focused on global markets that were affected the most during that time.
Coveme has two manufacturing facilities—one in China and one in Italy. While PET is still its main product, the company is also supplying Tedlar-based backsheets for module makers who prefer fluoropolymer products. Coveme has invested in a coating technology for all its target industries that, according to its CCO Monica Manara, makes the polymer surface scratch and abrasion resistant, and the technology is mainly promoted for the polymer based front cover in place of the front glass.
Last year’s new entrant B+K was the first company to commercialize PP based coextruded backsheet. The product is still “under evaluation at several leading module makers,” according to Maher Izaaryene , product and sales manager for PV films at B+K. Owing to severe price competition, B+K is focusing on high-end technical products such as backsheets for bifacial, floating PV and HJT applications. The company was able to sell about 1 GW equivalent of backsheets in 2019. The rated backsheet production capacity of the company is about 2 GW. However, the processing tools of the company are based on a unique flexible platform that can facilitate production of other polymer products offered by the company and vice versa. Should demand rise, B+K can scale up its backsheet production up to 6 GW without any additional capital expenditures, simply by switching its other machines over to produce backsheets.
For detailed information on the backsheet market please download our TaiyangNews Market Survey on Backsheet and Encapsulation 2020 for free here.
Our survey was launched during the TaiyangNews Reliable Module Design Conference (with recordings available on Youtube), where TaiyangNews presented its survey results and a number of the included companies presented details on backsheets (Jolywood, DuPont) while an executive panel discussed reliability of solar modules.