In conversation with Mr.Vivek Chaturvedi, Regional Director – Solar, DSM India, Middle East and Africa
1) Let’s begin with a glimpse of your company’s presence and offerings in India?
Royal DSM, a global, science-based company delivers innovative solutions that nourish, protect and improve performance in global markets. In the solar energy field, DSM develops material that increase the efficiency of solar modules, bringing down the cost of solar energy and helping to accelerate its penetration. We carry forward these offerings in India. DSM shares the Indian government’s long-term ambitions with regard to solar energy.
As tariffs fall and volumes grow in India Solar market, our products with “Same sun. More power.™” promise, will play a significant role in bringing the LCOE down and improving IRRs for developers/investors. We believe that affordability of PV cannot be at the cost of reliability and that is where our materials are vital for every PV installation. This becomes more important in countries like India which has some of the most extreme heat- humidity-soiling conditions.
2) What have been some of the recent developments at your organisation?
DSM is the leading player in anti-reflective coatings. Besides its new high endurance backsheets, the company also recently launched a new anti-soiling coating for PV solar glass, which will bring significant benefits in terms of energy output and more cost-effective maintenance of solar farms.Another interesting recent development is our acquisition of Sunshine, a Chinese manufacturer of innovative high- performance PV backsheets based on co-extrusion technology.The entrepreneurial spirit of Sunshine combined with DSM’s extensive experience and expertise in polymers, material processing and material sciences will undoubtedly lead to more new and exciting solar products. As a result, DSM is more than ready to use all its innovative power and expertise to help take the solar industry to the next level.
3) Tell us a bit about the recent technology advancements in your sector?
Reduction in cost per Kwp driven scale and manufacturing efficiencies has been a focus for the last few years, that is changing. We are seeing a rapid transition towards focus on cost per kWh. Which is great news as that brings focus back on efficiency and reliability in the entire value chain. Commodity multi cell technologies are peaking at 18.5% levels. Soon we will see a transition to efficiencies moving towards 19-20% at Cost levels, never seen before .. This will be point of inflection for rooftop segment, which is yet to see the ramp up to achieve our ambitious 40Gw by 2022. DSM intends to play a significant role in enabling that.
4) What are your growth plans for the Indian market?
What are the milestones you wish to achieve by the end of 2020? : It’s a core element of DSM’s strategy to focus on sustainable solutions that reduce the impact on our environment. We therefore believe strongly in the future of solar as renewable energy, which is why we’re committed to supporting the industry, in making it work in the long term, both from a financial and an environmental perspective.In our view, just bringing down the costs of materials is not enough. Long term success requires solutions that minimize impact on the environment, while simultaneously bringing down the costs of solar. And that’s what we focus on at DSM. Thanks to our acquisition of Sunshine in February this year, we now also manufacture and market highly durable fluorine-free PV backsheets. And in terms of material developments, we’ve just launched a new anti-soiling coating, which will help solar farm owners and project developers to increase their IRR, as energy output will go up, while maintenance costs, particularly cleaning costs, will come down.
Then we are keen on participating in “Make in India” for solar.
5) What have been the latest trends in demand for your products & services in India?Where do you see the next demand growth coming from?
Anti-Reflective coatings have given us a great start in the last 2 years in India. We are leaders by far here. Tier 1 Manufacturers, and top EPC companies and Developers know us and our core promise of “Same Sun. More Power. ™ We believe the next phase of growth will come from our Anti-Soiling coatings for glass, our Endurancebacksheet and few other innovations we are working on.
One of the biggest changes that we are bringing is driven by focus on kWhwHrs, for which we are engaging with top downstream and integrated players active in India and our two new launches will help bringing LCOE down and improving IRRs for them sustainably in every sense as follows:
Anti-Soiling coating for PV glass: The basic principle is simple. Because the solar panels are less easily soiled, they can maintain optimum performance for longer, which leads to a higher energy output. At the same time, because the cleaning frequency can be reduced, cleaning costs go down.
Of course, it all very much depends on the exact circumstances. It’s not a question of one solution fits all. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years it’s that dirt is a science. That’s why we’re now collecting so much data from so many different sites.
Our Endurance backsheet will also help project developers to maximize their returns. These robust backsheets can deal very well with the roughcircumstances in deserts, where sand erosion can play havoc with solar panels. They also have a low moisture permeation – or WVTR (water vapour transmission rate). Improved durability obviously bringsdown the LCOE of the PV system. But that’s not all. Perhaps even more importantly, we can produce these high-performance panelswithout making use of halogens, such as fluorine. A Life Cycle Analysis has shown that our backsheet has a carbon footprint that is 30% lower than fluorine-based products. Furthermore, recycling themodules at the end of their useful life will be cheaper with fluorine-free backsheets. I’m sure that will also make project developers smile.
6) Anything else you would like to add for our readers
We will continue to develop coating solutions that add value for developers and module manufacturers. Again, these will be solutions that will prove their value in the field. In addition, in partnership with a module manufacturer, we’re also working on an innovative electro-conductive backsheet. This involves back-contacted cell technology, which enlarges the effective cell surface area. The product we’re working on will have an interesting price/ performance ratio. We’ll soon be able to share more news about this development.