Keeping their eyes on the prize
Customer needs are continually evolving and business requirements are forever changing. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the renewable energy industry. While the technology continues to become less expensive and more efficient, feed-in tariffs and government incentives have become even less predictable. And with the European Union's and Japan's complaint over Ontario's domestic content requirement in its Feed-in tariff, Spain's moratorium on renewable energy projects and the US International Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce accusing Chinese PV producers of antidumping, things seem unsettled in the solar world.
For Luvata too, an early pioneer in the photovoltaic industry, things have changed drastically in a few short years. In this frank interview, Jussi Helavirta, Head of Luvata's Special Products division, reveals his views on the future of the industry and how Luvata is responding to it.
PES: Welcome back to PES magazine. How has your business been performing since we last spoke?
Jussi Helavirta: For the Luvata Group in 2011, sales were +14 per cent compared with 2010 and full year EBITDA was +24 per cent higher than 2010. So it was a good year for Luvata. Specifically our long-term commitment, global span and operating experience continue to contribute to the company's solar success. With dedicated Sunwire manufacturing facilities and staff in Europe, Asia (China and Malaysia) and North America, Luvata has more than tripled its solar ribbon production capacity.
PES: Luvata is known for setting standards in high-performance solar ribbon technology. Have you modified the technology in recent months to meet the needs of your customers?
JH: Luvata continues to work on the yield strength of Sunwire, making it one of the softest on the market today, and just recently Suzhou China has joined Luvata's sister facilities in Pori, Finland, Pasir Gudang, Malaysia and Appleton, Wisconsin USA in meeting the growing needs of our Sunwire customers.
Sunwire is still used widely as both an interconnecting ribbon and a cross-connecting ribbon. Generally speaking interconnecting solar ribbons are used for connecting the consecutive cells together to form strings whereas cross-connecting solar ribbons are used to connect the strings together and then to a connection box on the backside of the panel.
Sunwire is available in cut to length or on new bi-conical spools. As the automation and efficiency of PV module manufacturing gets better, there has been demand for larger spools. Historically spools of Sunwire have been 4-5