• TaiyangNews estimates that out of about 130 GW global PV shipment in 2019, modules worth of 110 GW is backsheet share in 2019.
  • While glass-glass is preferred configuration in bifacial, transparent backsheet expected to gain popularity
  • According to the discussion with leading backsheets makers during mid 2020, the price range for backsheets in general is expected to be between 8 and 13 CNY/m2 this year, while not ruling out an increase

Backsheets being an important component of the solar panel, the market size of these polymers is directly proportional to module production. However, unlike in the past when glass-glass panels had a negligible share and backsheets were nearly the unanimous choice for the rear cover, the balance has slightly tilted to favor glass with the advent of bifacial technology. Several backsheet suppliers – we spoke to during the research for our TaiyangNews Backsheet & Encapsulation Market Survey 2020 – estimate that about 15 to 18 GW of bifacial panels were produced in 2019, with glass commanding approximately 20% of the market share. Considering that global shipments of the PV totaled 130 GW in 2019, the backsheet market size was more than 110 GW. On the other hand, backsheet makers view bifacial also as an opportunity not only as a threat. Price
Indeed, the transparent backsheet is under serious evaluation by several module makers. Eric Yang from Cybrid’s international sales department believes that while the transparent backsheet was used in production of 300 MW, mostly by JinkoSolar, the share of bifacial would increase to 40 to 45 GW, of which transparent backsheets would account for 3 to 4 GW.
Generally speaking, the backsheet market has been stable during 2019, especially in terms of price. In 2018, the immense pressure on module makers resulted in backsheet prices falling dramatically by about 20 to 30%, while the prices were relatively stable in 2019.
According to our research for the market survey in the middle of the year, average prices in 2019 were 19 CNY/m2 for Tedlar based backsheet, 13 CNY/m2 for PVDF-based, and double sided coating based backsheet was sold for 10 CNY/m2. The price range for backsheets in general is expected to be between 8 and 13 CNY/m2 this year, while not ruling out a slight increase. According to Cybrid’s Yang, price fluctuation would not be beyond 2 to 4%. However, as of recently prices having going up for basically all components of modules, including solar glass. As backsheet makers are operating on wafer-thin (pun unintended) margins and with the current manufacturing practices in place, it seems there is hardly any potential for further cost reductions.
2020, on the other hand, did not start off too well. The COVID-19 outbreak soon after the winter break in China negatively affected the business initially. The domestic market picked up soon after, while the overseas business was stranded for many suppliers, especially those exporting backsheets to India, Europe and the US. Cybrid estimates that exports would see a fall of 50% for about six months this year.
The TaiyangNews Market Survey On Backsheet and Encapsulation 2020 in its backsheet section lists data for 71 products from 10 leading backsheet suppliers.
For more details on the backsheet market check our TaiyangNews Market Survey on Backsheets and Encapsulation 2020 which can be downloaded for free.