A new U.S. investment in China! Global PV manufacturer SunPower has entered into an agreement with China’s Dongfang Electric (DEC) and Tianjin Zhonghuan Semiconductor to establish a new joint venture, DEC Dongfang Huanchen, in Yixing Economic & Technological Development Zone, Jiangsu Province, China. The agreement covers a factory for developing up to 5GW of “overlapped-cell module” production capacity.
The agreement was signed in the Development Zone on February 22nd. SunPower will support DEC Dongfang Huanchen to establish 21 production lines, totaling 5GW, of overlapped-cell modules. DEC Dongfang Huanchen will be listed as one of the world’s top-10 PV module suppliers after the completion.
“The so-called ‘overlapped-cell module’ is a technology that welds PV cells cut into more than two pieces together with specific materials,” explained Kenny Ko, analyst at EnergyTrend. “With the conductive-paste-like materials, the half- or multi-cut PV cells will be connected to each other under an overlapped way, allowing a fixed module area to deploy more cells so that the overall power output will be enhanced.”
Seraphim, another China-based solar module manufacturer, has developed its “Eclipse” series through a similar technology. Lerri Solar, owned by LONGi, is also developing this technology.
“SunPower’s overlapped-cell packaging technology is patented. Dongfang Huanchen owns solar cell factory. I think Dongfang Huanchen will supply mono-si PERC cells for SunPower to assemble the innovative modules,” said Ko. “However, Dongfang Huanchen has only 500MW of production capacity at this moment. It is unknown to us that how it will fulfill the 5GW module capacity, even Dongfang Huanchen plans to expand its capacity to 1GW by this year.”
Furthermore, EnergyTrend is unable to figure out the market target of the 5GW capacity according to public information revealed until now. The only reasonable prospection to this agreement is it represents part of SunPower’s global allocation.
(Photo: the signing ceremony.)