Pioneer of photovoltaic wire technology makes strong commitment to growing markets
February 19, 2008
With worldwide demand for solar energy growing, global metals manufacturing and technology company, Luvata has announced aggressive growth plans for the production of its Sunwire branded photovoltaic wire. Production of the wire - an essential part of the manufacture of photovoltaic solar panels - is to double in Europe followed by significant expansions in the emerging markets of Asia and the US.
Luvata pioneered the technology since early 90s and made the automated mass-production of photovoltaic solar panels possible. The solution, branded Sunwire, is a copper-based ribbon used to create high performance connections to the silicon cells at the heart of photovoltaic modules. Luvata is taking a positive step in line with industry growth and increasing production of Sunwire in anticipation of predicted future demand.
Production is measured in the amount of generating potential of solar electricity. Luvata will double production at its plant in Pori, Finland from 500MW to 1GW by 2009. In the latter half of 2008, work will begin on a new manufacturing facility in Malaysia with 500MW capacity and continue in 2009 with expansion of production capabilities at existing Luvata plants in the US.
Jussi Helavirta, Executive Vice-President Special Products Division at Luvata, said: “The future of solar energy as a viable, clean option depends upon our customers being able to keep pace with growing demand. Thanks to these ambitious production increases, Luvata will be best positioned to meet this growth around the world.”
The 21st Century has already seen unprecedented growth, even when considering periodic shortages of silicon. Governments continue to approve energy-related laws and regulations driving further demand for renewable energy sources and associated technologies. The increasing demand driven by the global ‘green agenda’ and new advances in technology has resulted in a strong need for high-quality photovoltaic wire.
The current market for solar-generated power is 4GW worldwide. This is predicted to more than double by 2010 and, by 2030, analysts predict between six and nine per cent of global electricity demand will be met by photovoltaic solar panels. This is expected to reduce carbon emissions by just over one-billion tonnes - equivalent to the output of 300 coal-fired power stations or the entire carbon emissions of India in 2004*.
As cells become thinner, manufacturers are demanding photovoltaic wire in smaller dimensions to maximise efficiency, minimise shadowing on the silicon cells and ensure that the expensive crystalline silicon is not damaged during the soldering process. Prior to Luvata’s development of Sunwire, photovoltaic solar panels were constructed by hand, which made them prohibitively expensive.
Luvata’s production technology is recognised for its high quality and fine dimensional accuracy. When production was relocated from Austria to Pori, Luvata surpassed re-qualification tests, ensuring consistent quality for customers of both traditional photovoltaic solar panels and innovative new products such as those using thin film technology.
Helavirta explains: “Thanks to our production technology, Luvata can easily adjust to dimensions that historically prohibited the development of new photovoltaic cells. This investment will allow for short lead times and simplified start-up capabilities, resulting in a level of responsiveness and geographic flexibility not previously available. Our technology enables us to work closely with our customers to meet their exact needs.”
Helavirta concludes: “Luvata’s investment, combined with emphasis on research and development and product design, will help us to continue to find solutions to the challenges facing the photovoltaic industry both now, and in the future.”
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NOTES TO EDITORS
* Statistics from EPIA - Solar Generation IV, 2007
Photovoltaic technology harnesses the power of the sun to transform sunlight into electricity without producing any harmful waste products. Photovoltaic power generation has become an important and rapidly growing source of energy.
The Sunwire product line in Luvata Pori (formerly Neumayer in Austria) has established new benchmarks for quality and reliability. Increased automation in module production demands the highest reliability and quality of the materials used. Luvata has developed a fully-automated manufacturing method to produce rolled and plated flat copper wire for use in-cell and angled connector links in photovoltaic modules. In cooperation with its customers, Luvata leads the way in the field of environmentally-friendly power production.
Formerly known as Outokumpu Copper Products and acquired from Outokumpu OYJ by Nordic Capital in 2005, Luvata is a major international supplier of solutions, services, components and materials for manufacturing and construction. Luvata’s solutions are used in industries such as power generation, renewable energy, telecommunications, architecture, automotive, medicine, air-conditioning, refrigeration, and a wide range of consumer products. The company’s continued success is attributed to its longevity, its technological excellence and strategy of integrating with its customers’ businesses. Employing over 8,500 staff in 18 countries, Luvata works in partnership with customers such as Siemens, Toyota, CERN, Shaaz, and DWD International.