Andreas Liebheit, Heraeus Photovoltaics President that the world’s energy picture is reaching a global tipping point that will establish solar energy and other renewable sources as the most affordable ways to produce electricity. The driving factor giving momentum to this effort is China’s ambitious renewable energy program, which encompassed over 130 billion USD in 2017, more than all other countries combined. Liebheit noted that these strategic investments are having a global domino effect that continues to increase adoption of renewable energy.
With a significant energy portfolio encompassing photovoltaics (PV), wind, fuel cells and battery technology, Heraeus has been a leading driver of efficiency and innovation in the renewable energy industry.
Within the past six months, Heraeus helped customers achieve several world records for solar cell PERC efficiency. Overall, all Chinese companies collectively achieved an absolute increase of 1.24% in p-type mono PERC cell efficiency. At a briefing at the 2018 SNEC International Photovoltaic Power Generation and Smart Energy Exhibition and Conference, Liebheit shared company insights on the long-term future for renewable energy and its continued growth and adoption.
According to Liebheit, China’s strategic policies and massive investments have clearly positioned China as “the owner of the global PV supply chain.” The continued adoption and growth of PV in China is reaching critical mass, enabling costs to become comparable to and eventually cheaper than traditional forms of energy.
In 2016, Heraeus projected a 50 percent decrease in the levelized cost of renewable energy within five years, from which 27% have already been realized after just two years. “We predicted a cost reduction glide path, but the cost drop is significantly ahead of projections. It is faster than a glide.” Renewable Wind and PV energy price at auctions in Mexico and Saudi Arabia have already reached prices below $0.018/kWh.
Another compelling trend is China’s success in improving air quality. One of its best known initiatives, called Beijing Blue Sky, has seen a significant improvement in air quality from “grey” to “blue sky” days in the Beijing region. With the doubling of use of PV/solar energy and cutting coal use by half during that period, the region saw 226 blue sky days in 2017 compared to only 176 in 2013.
China’s renewable energy strategy has integrated into its Belt and Road initiative. China announced plans to build renewable energy manufacturing plants in about 20 countries within their Road and Belt map. Liebheit points out this strategy has a three-fold effect: He says, “China reinforces its world leadership in PV, drives further adoption of renewable energy and economically strengthens its trading partner relationships in the region.”
Liebheit also discussed China’s national effort to become the world leader in energy transmission and storage capabilities. China’s investment in energy storage technology represents more than 50% of the world market and they currently produce more than three times the world’s battery capacity. The investments are paying dividends: average battery pack prices continued to fall, down to $209/kWh in 2017, a 24% decrease. He said, “China’s build-out of a smart, integrated grid that maximizes the generating capabilities of all these renewable sources is, for me, the last piece of the puzzle.”
Liebheit points to another factor helping renewable energy to close the “cost gap” with fossil fuels: the innovation ceiling of legacy energy. He notes that coal and fossil fuels are mature and “there is little that can be done from an innovation perspective to attain more performance and efficiency.”
Renewable energy, Liebheit observes, is not burdened with an innovation ceiling. He says, “Across our own renewable energy solutions portfolio, which includes silver metallization pastes, PV cell optimization services, fuel cells and battery technology, we achieve significant innovation and performance gains regularly. The same can be said of the industry overall.” With innovation and adoption on a continued upward trajectory and cost per-kWh declining, Liebheit adds, “global adoption of renewable energy as the best, most flexible and cheapest way to generate electricity is not just possible in the next decade, it is inevitable.”
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The Heraeus Photovoltaics Global Business Unit is an industry leading developer and manufacturer of silver metallization pastes for the PV industry. For over 40 years, Heraeus has built a reputation of innovation, extensive research and new product development in thick film technologies for some of the most prominent companies within a variety of industries. In the field of PV, the Heraeus Photovoltaics Business Unit applies this history and its innovative technology to offer metallization pastes for solar cell applications. The Heraeus SOL Series of silver pastes is specially formulated to provide higher efficiencies and wider processing windows, resulting in better yields and higher output for cell manufacturers.
A globally leading technology group, Heraeus is headquartered in Hanau, Germany. Founded in 1851, it is a family-owned portfolio company which traces its roots back to a pharmacy opened by the family in 1660. Today, Heraeus combines businesses in the environmental, energy, electronics, health, mobility and industrial applications sectors.
In the 2017 financial year, Heraeus generated revenues of €21.8 billion. With approximately 13.000 employees in 40 countries, the FORTUNE Global 500-listed company holds a leading position in its global markets. Heraeus is one of the top 10 family-owned companies in Germany.
With technical expertise, a commitment to excellence, a focus on innovation and entrepreneurial leadership, we are constantly striving to improve our performance. We create high-quality solutions for our clients and strengthen their long-term competitiveness by combining unique material expertise with leadership in technology.
Heraeus has been present and active in the Greater China region, one of its top 3 markets, for more than 40 years. Today we have more than 2,600 employees in 20 locations across the region.
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Heraeus Greater China Regional Headquarters
Heraeus (China) Investment Co., Ltd.
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Fax: + 86 21 3357 5230
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