Merck is a global pharmaceutical and chemical company with a history that began in 1668, and a future shaped by around 40,000 employees in 67 countries. Merck is supporting photovoltaic development by supplying innovative, easy-to-use materials and formulations for next-generation solar cells. With its products and process chemicals for both printing and chemical coating technologies, Merck is enabling solar cell manufacturers to improve cell performance and to save costs in cell manufacturing.
Reported by Jeanny H. Lim
What do you see as the trends and market forces driving PV technology in the second half of 2011?
There are a lot of messages in the market: Overcapacity, government funding cuts, and so forth. Some people say it’s a very difficult year and others say it’s a helpful process because an industry that only relies on government incentives cannot survive in the long term. And I believe the industry is on the right track as it is getting ready for more economical production processes and thinking more about the environment than before.
We’re seeing that companies in the industry are moving toward covering the entire value chain from silicon, ingots, wafers to cells and modules. And others are going even further: They’re aiming for installations as well. In my view, the main battle is how to increase cell efficiency, build and connect modules, and how to manage the process chain. This is where I believe a lot of improvements will take place.
How are PV prices expected to develop in the second half?
Market research studies report lower prices and an increasing market. Most reports are publishing prices of already one dollar per watt or on the way to that. I personally believe in the long-term growth of this market.
Where are you putting your focus this year, in terms of business growth and technology development?
We intend to increase our customer base further this year. We believe the number of lines are growing, so we’ll focus more on supporting them with new technologies, which will help the PV industry achieve higher efficiency at lower production cost. Our slogan is ‘make solar power affordable for everyone’. If we can help the industry cope with even lower prices, then we’ll create a win-win situation for everyone.
This year, we will continue to support our customers with innovative developments such as the new isishape® concepts for selective emitter, metal wrap-through and local back-surface field cell designs and edge isolation, to mention only some of directions we are moving in. The focus is, of course, on customer needs. In every country, we have experts who have close ties to this industry and are in permanent dialogue with our customers to provide the support they need.
We’re working on a lot of projects that are making Merck more attractive to the solar industry. We will grow in this market and we’re aiming to become an even stronger partner to this industry in line with our slogan ‘Working With Sunshine™’.
Jeanny H. Lim is Editor-in-Chief of InterPV. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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