- The shortage of PVDF started in 2021 and which continued into 2022 has caused sudden and dramatic changes in the backsheets segment
- As an alternative, many companies are shifting their preference to double-sided coating or non-fluoropolymer based backsheets as well
- Summarizing the latest developments within the backsheets segment along with encapsulation materials, TaiyangNews Market Survey on Backsheets and Encapsulation Materials 2023 lists 132 products from 14 suppliers
“Short supply and high price” is a story that has evoked anxious responses from module makers since the beginning of the pandemic, and 2022 saw it stretch beyond the realm of silicon. The raw material for PVDF, the predominant backsheet configuration, was in acute short supply that started in 2021 and extended into 2022. PVDF prices soared and so did the prices of respective backsheets based on it. This brought about several sudden changes in the backsheet segment.
One such important development was that a fluoropolymer film as an outer protective layer (be it PVDF or PVF) was considered a must for module reliability. Thus, the backsheet using fluoropolymer film, at least on the outer side, especially using PVDF, has remained the leading backsheet structure for about a decade, and this was true even in 2021. However, the high prices of PVDF involuntarily made the double-sided coating based backsheet the most favored configuration, in a span of just one year. PVDF prices have also led to increased interest in the non-fluoropolymer based backsheet. In fact, most of the top tier companies are employing either double-sided coating as the mainstream backsheet construction, with a few even shifting to nonfluoropolymer configuration for a major part of the production.
Beyond the economics, backsheets along with encapsulation materials, which collectively wrap the solar modules, also shoulder another huge responsibility – reliability. These important bill of materials (BOM) have a collective goal of protecting the inner cell matrix from environmental impacts for the warranted period of power output, which has been 25 years, and is increasingly 30 years.
While the glass facing the front acts as the first line of defense, the polymer wrap, consisting of the encapsulant and the backsheet, is equally important to module reliability. So, given their role in both cost and reliability, backsheets and encapsulants have always been prime candidates for optimization and innovation among the module BOM.
Understanding the importance of backsheets in module making, both in terms of quality and costs, we have been publishing the market survey on backsheets since 2017. The encapsulation materials are equally important; however, the segment was historically more structured with EVA enjoying monopoly. Of late, with new cell and module technologies entering the mainstream, innovations have gained prominence in the encapsulation segment. In the end, both backsheets and encapsulation materials are polymers, and their functionalities are complementary in nature, and some companies supply both materials. Thus, we extended the survey to encapsulation materials in 2019. TaiyangNews came out the latest 4th edition of TaiyangNews Market Survey on Backsheet and Encapsulation Materials 2022/2023, in which we continue to provide an overview on key techno-commercial developments associated with these 2 important elements of module BOS along with a detailed description of the products from leading suppliers.
The 4th edition of combined market survey on backsheets and encapsulation materials has received responses from 14 companies in total . The survey has data for 132 products in total, which is 42 more than the 3rd edition. Backsheet segment covers 10 companies with 86 products and Encapsulation sections covers 46 models from 8 leading encapsulant suppliers. Companies like Hangzhou First, Cybrid, Crown and RenewSys supply both backsheets and encapsulants. While Sveck, HIUV, Sinopont and Enrich are exclusive encapsulant suppliers, Féron, Lucky Film, Coveme, Jolywood, Endurans and Shingi Urja are pure backsheet suppliers.
Following this introduction from the report, in the coming weeks we will publish key excerpts of the survey in a series of articles.
For more details, download the TaiyangNews 4th Market Survey on Backsheets and Encapsulation for free here.