According to the president, Motech Industries does not consider investing in US production.

Despite prospects provided by the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) for Taiwan-based PV manufacturers to establish plants in the US, solar cell and PV module manufacturer Motech Industries is not currently considering doing so, according to Fred Yeh, the company president.

Many US-based PV developers are looking to collaborate with Taiwanese solar cell and/or PV module manufacturers due to IRA’s 30% investment tax credit and subsidies for the creation of PV power-generating plants.

Because Motech has no plans to make investments in the US, some US-based PV developers have contacted the company; however, no further discussions have taken place, according to Yeh.

Motech had established plants in the US and, as a result, is aware of the significant differences in the cost structure of PV production between the US and Taiwan, including labor costs and the impact of labor unions, Yeh said.

Producing G12 or next-generation solar cells is one way that Taiwanese manufacturers can differentiate their goods and assure profitability if they wish to open facilities in the US, according to Yeh. Models of N-type PERC (passivated emitter and rear cell), TOPCon (tunnel oxide passivated contact), HIT (heterojunction with intrinsic thin layer), and IBC (interdigitated back contact) are examples of next-generation solar cells, according to Yeh. He also noted that, among Taiwan-based PV manufacturers, only Motech currently produces TOPCon solar cells and PV modules made of such solar cells.

According to Yeh, the US government has granted a two-year exemption from anti-circumvention taxes to PV module manufacturers in Southeast Asia. According to Yeh, the 2-year forbearance is actually meant to buy enough time for the US to build a domestic PV supply chain.

According to Yeh, all Taiwan-based manufacturers of solar cells and PV modules used to suffer greatly from low-price competition from manufacturers in China, and many were on the edge of going out of business. However, because the Taiwanese government has been increasing PV power output, they have recovered and swung into profitable operation, according to Yeh.

It is crucial to create solar cells with higher efficiency, Yeh said, because the amount of land accessible for constructing PV power stations is decreasing. Taiwanese manufacturers are more cost-competitive than their counterparts in South Korea and Japan, but Yeh pointed out that they must develop next-generation solar cell technology to stay competitive.

It is challenging to increase manufacturing scale in order to reduce production costs because there is still a limited market demand for N-type TOPCon solar cells, according to Yeh. However, Yeh pointed out that because Chinese manufacturers have actively entered the N-type TOPCon solar cell market, the related production cost is comparable to that of PERC solar cells.

Yeh said that while Taiwanese manufacturers are unable to compete with their Chinese counterparts on production costs, they can work with EU, US, Japan, and South Korean PV companies to open up new commercial opportunities.

According to operating data gathered by Motech from rooftop and ground-mounted PV systems in Taiwan using its TOPCon solar cells, TOPCon solar cells produced 3-5% more electricity than conventional ones during the months of June through September while N-type solar cells produced more electricity than P-type ones during cloudy and rainy days. According to Yeh, TOPCon solar cells initially produced more electricity than PERC ones, and after 25 years of operation, the former’s power generation had dropped to 83.1% while the latter’s had increased to over 90% of the initial level.

It is acceptable that the average cost for PV modules made of TOPCon solar cells is greater than that for PV modules manufactured of PERC ones by US$0.16/watt under the same IRR (internal rate of return) on investment in PV power-generating facilities. Yeh noted that Motech also offers PV modules built of PERC solar cells to cater to the various needs of its customers. The cost for Motech-produced PV modules manufactured with TOPCon solar cells is also cheaper than the average level, which can result in higher IRR.

According to Yeh, Motech currently has a 350MWp yearly production capacity for M6-size TOPCon and PERC solar cells, with the capacity being flexibly modified for concurrent manufacture of the two models. Yeh notes that the highest yearly production capacity is 250MWp, particularly for TOPCon solar cells.

According to Yeh, there is now a higher demand for TOPCon solar cells than PERC ones, and Motech has received orders for the former with shipments not beginning until the first quarter of 2023.

Motech wants to create M10-size solar cells in addition to M6-size models, and is currently determining whether larger PV modules built of M10-size solar cells can endure typhoons in Taiwan.

According to Yeh, Motech’s factory in central China has a 300MWp yearly manufacturing capacity for PV modules made of G12 solar cells for the markets in Europe and Japan. According to Yeh, the factory has received orders with shipments planned through the first quarter of 2023 and is operating at full capacity.

Motech reported consolidated revenues of NT$528.8 million (US$16.8 million) for September, up 3.54% from the previous month but down 19.40% from the previous year; NT$1.388 billion for the third quarter, up 19.33% from the previous period but down 11.77% from the previous year; and NT$3.650 billion for January-September, down 15.31% from the previous year.

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