Japan’s Mitsui Chemicals held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new plant to produce its high-performance polyolefin elastomer (POE) product Tafmer at its Singapore-based wholly owned subsidiary Mitsui Elastomers (MELS) on July 28, 2023. The additional 120,000 tonnes of capacity is due to come on stream by March 2025 and join the 225,000 tonnes/year of existing production capacity at the site.
Tafmer is widely used as an impact modifier in automotive polypropylene (PP) compounds; its use as a core component of encapsulation films for solar modules has emerged as a fast-growing application in recent years.
MLT Analytics forecasts demand for POE in solar encapsulant applications to grow at a rate exceeding 20% per annum between 2020 and 2030. POE competes with ethylene-vinyl-acetate (EVA) resin in the solar encapsulation market, with usage often dictated by module type and the price of POE versus EVA. (Editor's note: The author of this article is a director and CEO of MLT Analytics.)
While representing an attractive market for incumbent players, the expected emergence of new POE suppliers in China and Korea in coming years will result in a more competitive market for solar encapsulation and other applications, as well as potential price destruction.