Chinese EVA film producer Seekan Interlayer Technology Co. Ltd. is building a second factory to target what it sees as long-term opportunities in the solar energy market, even as its customers in China's solar-module-manufacturing industry are seeing a sharp contraction caused by the global economic downturn.
The new facility will double its capacity when it opens in 2010, giving it 15 lines, according to Zhenjiang, China-based Seekan. The company claims to be one of China's largest producers of ethylene vinyl acetate films. It also makes polyvinyl butyral.
Spokeswoman Alina Lee said China's photovoltaic solar-module industry cut production 50 percent after the financial crisis struck last year, which mirrors other industry estimates. Many module makers shuttered lines. Seekan is using four of its seven production lines, she said.
But Lee said long-term, Seekan expects growth in the solar PVB module market and wants to be ready when the market returns.
The Chinese market has shrunk a lot but we still have great expectations for the future, she said, noting European and American countries have adopted tax benefits for solar power. We believe our government will adopt this strategy in the future.
We know there are many new factories to produce solar panels. The world market is expanding, so we don't think it is a risk.
China's government announced March 27 a solar power subsidy of up to $3.93 per kilowatt hour.
EVA is used as a backing layer and as protective film in making photovoltaic solar cells.
In some developed economies, solar power is a growth industry. A solar industry trade group in the U.S., for example, said in March that installed solar capacity there grew 17 percent in 2008, a record increase.
DuPont Co. also said in March it expects sales of its plastics and metallic materials to the PVB solar module industry sales to triple to about US$1 billion by 2012.
China's PVB module makers are very export-oriented, with not much production for domestic demand. Lee said about 60 percent of Seekan's sales are to domestic Chinese PVB module makers, with the rest exported directly, mainly to India and several Asian countries, Lee said, adding that the firm is looking to expand its direct export sales.