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Japanese and Malaysian companies have joined forces to establish a joint venture for manufacturing EVA encapsulant film for photovoltaic applications in Malacca, Malaysia. The extrusion facility is a joint venture of Mitsui Chemicals Tohcello, Inc. (Tokyo) and local processor Scientex (Selangor) and will tap burgeoning demand for the encapsulant film in Malaysia, Singapore and Europe.

April 1, 2011

2 Min Read
Mitsui in Malaysian EVA solar encapsulant JV

Japanese and Malaysian companies have joined forces to establish a joint venture for manufacturing EVA encapsulant film for photovoltaic applications in Malacca, Malaysia. The extrusion facility is a joint venture of Mitsui Chemicals Tohcello, Inc. (Tokyo) and local processor Scientex (Selangor) and will tap burgeoning demand for the encapsulant film in Malaysia, Singapore and Europe.

solar1_0.jpg

Solar market grew 108% in 2010.

Slated for operational start-up in the first half of 2012, MCTI Scientex Solar Sdn Bhd will have initial capacity of 10,000 tonnes/year. Mitsui Chemicals Tohcello currently has capacity of approximately 31,000 tonnes/year for EVA encapsulant film at its Japanese plant in Nagoya but by August this year it will be boosted to 40,000 tonnes/year. This additional capacity in Japan, however, is only enough is only sufficient to satisfy demand in Japan and China.

One advantage of the Malacca site is its proximity to the planned solar cell plant of AUO SunPower, a subsidiary of Taiwan's AU Optronics (Taoyuan). When completed in 2013, it  is expected to produce  more than 1.4 GW annually of high-efficiency solar cells in Malaysia's "solar valley." In neighboring Singapore, Renewable Energy Corp. (Sandvika, Norway) started up a plants with solar module capacity of 590 MW in November 2010.

The MCTI Scientex plant will be Malaysia's second such facility serving the PV market. U.S. company STR Solar (Enfield, CT) operates a production facility at Johor with 2 GW of encapsulant capacity (approximately 14,000 tonnes/yr of EVA) and it plans to boost capacity to 3 GW in the third quarter of this year. Available floor space at the plant is sufficient to house 4 GW of capacity.

According to energy consultancy SolarBuzz (San Francisco, CA), worldwide solar cell production reached 20.5 GW in 2010, up 108% from 9.86 GW a year earlier, with thin film production accounting for 13.5% of total production. According to plastics consultancy Townsend Solutions (Houston, TX), this would equate to encapsulant demand of approximately 145,000 tonnes, with the vast majority being EVA.

Mitsubishi Chemicals Tohcello expects growth to "moderate" to more than 20% per annum in the longer term, and its stated objective is to increase its global market share from the current 20% to 30%, with the Malacca plant contributing to this increased share.-[email protected]

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