PV Taiwan is one of Asia’s premier international PV exhibitions. Taiwan being a solar manufacturing hub; this exhibition serves as a perfect sourcing avenue for the world market.
The show was from 22nd October to 24th October 2014; with some 160 exhibitors and 8000 visitors.
Inspite of this expo providing a great opportunity to understand the costs of global solar value chain and avenue for raw material purchasing; I hardly saw any Indian companies / representatives in the exhibition. Maybe it was because of Diwali [Hindu New Year] or is it because the Indian companies prefer to purchase raw materials from China.
I had some pretty interesting meetings with senior management of some Taiwanese companies; thanks to the arrangements done by TAITRA; Taiwan External Trade Development Council.
Some learning from the event:
1. The Taiwan solar market is manufacturing based; with more than 95% of the manufactured goods meant for exports.
2. The major markets for Taiwanese goods have been Europe, USA and China.
3. With the recent anti-dumping duties on Chinese and Taiwanese companies by the US; the Taiwanese companies have started focusing on other countries as well. Japan’s solar focus has come at the right time for the Taiwanese export market. Ease of cultural understanding and not a great distance has made Japan one of the favorites for Taiwanese solar companies.
4. Middle East, India, Eastern Europe are also being looked at.
5. Some Taiwanese solar companies had initiated steps to manufacture solar panels in the US; a approximately 6 GW / year market. But with the anti-dumping scheme; Taiwanese module companies cannot import cells [possible with duty] from Taiwan [and even China] into their US factories; thereby creating an unpredictable environment on these panel factories.
The US is expecting these panel manufacturers to import cells from other countries or buy from US companies. This however changes the pricing dynamics of many panel manufacturers.
6. This has left the panel manufacturers with options of manufacturing in Mexico or Canada; leveraging NAFTA. Canada is on the higher side of labor costs; so Mexico seems to be the best option for now.
7. Other countries can also be looked at; maybe Malaysia due to cultural proximity and already established supply chains.
8. There seems to be a coordinated efforts between solar cell and module companies to join hands and manufacture products as per the market needs w.r.t generation potential and price expectations. The entire solar value chain is coming together with the objective of reaching the market objective.
9. R&D is an important focus for Taiwanese companies and energy storage is the next big target.