SolarQuarter had an exclusive interaction with Omar Berrak, Sales Director, NW Africa, LONGi SOLAR and gained a great understanding of the different aspects of the company with respect to the business, product, technology, and future growth plans.
How has the overall business been for LONGi Solar in North and West Africa in 2021?
The COVID-19 pandemic definitely has had a negative business impact on the industry and LONGi is no exception. In North & West Africa, we faced project cancellations or delays due to the pandemic. But we ensured close co-operation with customers and partners to seek every possible way to execute per plan. We have full confidence that NWA will recover from the impact of COVID-19, supported by the measures taken by governments across Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, and other countries. We believe that in 2022, the region will fully recover and come back stronger with another round of solar boom.
But in general, it has been a frustrating year for LONGi in NWA, we have been able to reach an important share market and build a solid network of distributors in strategic countries of Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Algeria, and the Cote d’ivoire region. And we have also signed very interesting Utility projects in Burkina Faso, Senegal, Tunisia, and Egypt that we supply in 2022.
Please tell us about how LONGi modules are fit for any region and specifically for North and West Africa regions?
Our PV modules have high efficiency which will lead to having better LCOE. That will make it fit for the market that we are targeting. The top modules in the NWA region are our Hi-Mo 4 and Hi-Mo 5 products. Being a new product released in Q4 last year, Hi-Mo 5 is based on 182mm (M10) gallium doped monocrystalline wafers and uses smart soldering technology. It is now is well accepted by our distributors and also the CNI projects, developers, EPC. Based on the different project scenarios, our products are well accepted by our customers across the region. Also, we have a release of our 66 cells Hi-Mo 4 mono facial module, especially for residential and commercial projects, where there was a lot of demand in 3 markets: Morocco, Tunisia, and Cote d’ivoire.
What trends are we likely to see in the module technology in the region in the coming years?
Our competitors are providing G12 cells and N-type cells, which will have higher power outputs and efficiency. Therefore, higher efficiency power output modules are more likely to become the trend in the markets. In the next 2-3 years, we expect Hi-MO5 and the 182mm standard wafers to become the mainstream product for the global utility market. We are also assessing various emerging advanced technologies in terms of cost vs value for commercialization.
We will release the new product N-Type TOPcon. We just got the testing confirmation from the Institute for Solar Energy Research (ISFH), our entire TOPcon cell has reached a conversion efficiency of over 25% which is the first time for any TOPcon cell with the commercial size silicon wafer to reach such a high level. Also, we are the only ones who have been tested at the ISFH in Germany which is one of the highest credible agencies in the world for testing cell efficiency. Therefore, the next generation after the cell will be TOPcon.
What are your plans for growth and development for the year 2022?
Over the past few years, we’ve seen an increased appetite for solar PV in the African Region. At the moment we only have South Africa & Egypt being part of the “Gigawatt Club” which, with the current trend we ought to have more African countries joining this club in the next few ears. With the growing demand, our target at the moment is to service the continent sufficiently by using our existing and new distributors in strategic countries, which will be vital in catering to the diverse and scattered NWA market. For Utility Our desire is to have at least 35-40% market share in the next 3 years. Besides providing direct training to industry players, we are recruiting more and more local employees that we have trained to also contribute to the solar revolution already I have 3 sales Managers in my team to cover all the North and West Africa Market.