Despite the challenges faced by Taiwan's PV market in the wake of the industry's recent policy changes, Summer Luo, the chairman of BIG SUN Group, is still upbeat about the prospects of the local industry and is actively preparing for the upturn of the market.
With their abundance of experience in the production of PV cells, BIG SUN has managed to secure a solid footing in the global market via their iPV Trackers. The iPV Trackers have won a very good market reception in recent years, especially in Japan, thanks to its remarkable functionality and its ability to endure extreme conditions. When operating under a severe snowy weather, for instance, the iPV Tracker can easily shake off the accumulated snow via slanting or turning.
Under sufficient sunlight, a PV system featuring BIG SUN's iPV Trackers can generate power output that is approximately 40-50% higher than fixed PV panels. In addition, the iPV Trackers can be installed above fishing ponds to shield fishes from the scorching heat during summer.
To break the confinements of the limited domestic market in Taiwan and to overcome overseas obstacles such as competition, transportation, and language barriers, Luo has decided to push for the official global licensing of BIG SUN’s iPV Tracker technology this year.
With limited licensing fees, a licensee with BIG SUN's iPV Tracker technology will be able to handle their own manufacturing, procurement, logistics, and quality control, thereby turning out products with high cost-performance ratios. Luo harbors a very high expectation for the licensing business, saying that the licensing can help generate up to NT$80 billion in revenues when the total scale reaches 100 GW. As the iPV Tracker technology has been worldwide patented, Luo is not concerned about the potential problems of counterfeiting, noting that copycats will be fined heavily.
Developing a new technology to deal with the market’s abrupt changes
Taiwan's PV power market has been facing numerous challenges since the second quarter. With the announcement of China's 531 new policy, the impact of the U.S. and Turkey’s growing tensions, and the official lifting of tariffs in the European Union, a growing number of PV power firms have been forced to adopt shoestring budgets in the short term and are seeking technological upgrades to weather the difficult times. Motech Industries, for example, has recently shut down its solar wafer production lines, while many others have either closed or downsized their operations. In the same vein, BIG SUN will be looking to reduce its workforce down to 50, and is expected to shift its business focus to the marketing, licensing, and promotion of iPV Trackers.
In response to the growing market pressures, Luo reveals that BIG SUN is also seeking fresh funds for diversifying into the production of thermal energy storage systems. According to Luo, BIG SUN has already developed a patented energy storage system whose capacity ranges from hundreds of MW to several KW. The energy storage system is also expected to have a conversion ratio of around 30% or more and a longer product lifetime than PV cells.
Confident that the product will succeed, Luo plans to eventually raise NT$1 billion to set up a new venture for producing the thermal-energy storage system. The storage system’s funds may be derived from the licensing of BIG SUN’s iPV Tracker technology or even the sale of the BIG SUN brand, according to Luo.
Regardless of the direction that BIG SUN takes, the company's iPV Tracker technology is certain to gain traction in the market. In Taiwan, quite a few iPV Trackers have already been installed for various purposes. An example of this is the iPV Tracker from Yunlin County’s Taifu PV power station, which is being used to produce high quality Arabica coffee beans that can be sold for as much as NT$ 2200 per pound. With the iPV Tracker's technology, BIG SUN hopes to create win-win situations for different businesses in the agricultural industry.
(Photo Credit: BIG SUN Group)