At the world’s largest solar trade show SNEC 2023 in China, TaiyangNews met up with Dr Christian Peter, the managing director of Solarlab Aiko Europe of the leading solar PV cell and module manufacturer Aiko Solar. Peter talked to TaiyangNews Managing Director Michael Schmela in an exclusive conversation as part of the TaiyangNews & SNEC Solar Leadership Conversations (click on photo to watch the video).
A pure play solar cell manufacturer, Aiko jumped into module production business only recently and made waves across the global solar industry with a record module efficiency of 24% for commercial solar panels (see Cracking 24% Module Efficiency Level).
Sharing the rationale behind venturing into the module business with its all back contact (ABC) technology, Peter told TaiyangNews during the interview that the decision was guided by the need to offer a differentiated product to the market and not enter the competition per say to offer a ‘#metoo’ product like TOPCon or heterojunction (HJT).
The ABC technology was more complicated to begin since it was a new technology so Aiko had to build its own stringer. It was able to sell high-quality PERC cells into the market and become one of the world leading cell suppliers, but for this newly built cell technology, it needed to develop a suitable module hence the decision to enter module making, explained Peter.
“We started with a 500 MW R&D line in China (in Europe this would mean mass production) and there is still optimization ongoing. Within this optimization, there will not be let’s say quantum jumps but there will still be a little bit increase,” according to Peter which he said is leading to an increase in module efficiency.
Aiko is now working on expanding this 500 MW R&D line to a 7.5 GW fully automized line in China, which could increase efficiency further.
At the end of 2023, Aiko will have about nominal module production capacity of 6 GW.
As of now, Aiko’s focus for these high efficiency modules is Europe which it will cater through a newly launched company called Aiko Energy Germany. The German office in Duesseldorf will act as its European headquarters. Later, it will expand to other markets as well.
The Chinese manufacturer, said Peter, doesn’t want to compete with its customers so it will continue to supply PERC cells to them. ABC cells will not be sold outside the company. Aiko will continue to expand capacity with immediate plans including a 30 GW cell and 30 GW module fab in Jinan, China (see China PV News Snippets).
Not only Aiko plans to remain a PERC cell supplier, it is also open to exploring TOPCon customers too depending on the market demand.
At Solarlab that Peter heads in Europe, Aiko is considering an expansion as it explores technologies beyond back contact cells. Aiko is also open to start manufacturing fab in Europe if the financials work out.
Watch the complete interview with Dr Christian Peter on TaiyangNews’ YouTube channel.