In recent years, with the rapid development of the photovoltaic industry, photovoltaic film particles (EVA/POE) demand for raw materials is rapidly increasing. According to statistics, the global film production capacity is almost entirely concentrated in China, and EVA and POE as the core packaging materials, China is still highly dependent on imports, 2021, China’s EVA import dependence is still more than 50%, POE is monopolized by overseas manufacturers, basically dependent on imports, the rapid expansion of downstream demand and low domestic rate of EVA and POE materials for the development of a broad market space.
1. Photovoltaic film types and comparisons
China’s photovoltaic industry started early and developed to a high degree, and has a high proportion of production capacity in many parts of the industry chain.
EVA/POE as the core raw material of photovoltaic film, the degree of localization is low. As of 2021, China’s EVA production capacity of 1.772 million tons, accounting for 27% of the world; and POE/POP global production capacity of more than 1 million tons, due to the polymerization process, metallocene catalysts, a-olefin and other aspects of a high technical barriers, POE production capacity is mainly concentrated in the hands of Dow, Mitsui, LG and several other companies, China is still not a large-scale industrialization of POE Applications.
Currently there are four main types of PV films on the market: transparent EVA film, white EVA film, POE film and co-extruded EPE film. Transparent EVA film has become the mainstream encapsulation material in the current market because of its price advantage and processing performance advantage, accounting for about 52%; white EVA film is added to EVA resin with a certain amount of titanium dioxide and other white fillers to improve the reflectivity of secondary light, mainly used for single-glass, double-glass module back encapsulation, when using white EVA instead of transparent EVA, the power gain of double-glass module can reach 7-10W When using white EVA instead of transparent EVA, the power gain of double-glass modules can reach 7-10W, while the power gain of single-glass modules is 1-3W.
POE film is the mainstream encapsulation material for double-glass modules due to its unique PID resistance, as well as its high resistivity and resistance to hydrolysis; EPE film is manufactured byextruding EVAand POE resin through a co-extrusion process, which combines EVA’s good processing performance with POE’s good PID resistance and water vapour resistance. According to CPIA’s forecast, in the next few years, the market share of transparent EVA and white EVA film will decline, while the market share of EPE film will increase significantly.
2. EVA Market Status and Outlook
EVA in the chemical industry chain in the middle and lower reaches of the position, direct raw materials for ethylene and vinyl acetate, with the rapid expansion of EVA production capacity, the demand for ethylene vinyl acetate has grown significantly, and ethylene vinyl acetate in the past five years without effective expansion, the contradiction between supply and demand is becoming increasingly prominent.
EVA has four production processes: solution polymerization, emulsion polymerization, suspension polymerization and high-pressure continuous polymerization method. Current industrial production is all high-pressure continuous polymerization, which can be divided into tube or kettle methods. Basel’s tubular technology and ExxonMobil’s kettle technology are the mainstays of PV production. The Basel tubular method is equipped with a pulse valve, which allows the inner walls of the reactor to be flushed during the reaction process, reducing polymer adhesion and the formation of crystalline spots, resulting in a consistent, high proportion of PV material. The kettle method is not equipped with a pulse valve, under ultra-high pressure, EVA dissolves in ethylene and VA, and precipitates on the wall of the tube when cold, causing the wall to stick, the longer the precipitation, and eventually fall off to form crystal dots.
3. EVA supply status
According to the different VA content, EVA can be divided into three categories of varieties: EVA resin (VA content of 5%-40%), EVA elastomer (VA content of 40%-70%) and EVA emulsion (VA content of 70%-95%), the following discussion are EVA resin.
According to IHS statistics, in 2021, the global EVA production capacity of 6.5 million tons, Northeast Asia, North America, Western Europe, the three regions accounted for 88%, Northeast Asia subdivision, mainland China’s production capacity of 1.77 million tons (accounting for 27% of global capacity), South Korea 1.18 million tons (18%), Japan 640,000 tons (10%), Taiwan, China 510,000 tons (8%).
In 2017-2020, the global EVA production capacity growth rate is relatively slow, into 2021, in the carbon peak, carbon neutral, driven by the global photovoltaic industry into a new stage of development, EVA also ushered in new development opportunities, 2021, the global new EVA production capacity reached 1.1 million tons, of which 800,000 tons of new production capacity in China, 300,000 tons in South Korea, the next few years, the global new production capacity will still. In the next few years, the global new production capacity will still be mainly concentrated in China. According to our estimation, from 2022 to 2024, the global new EVA production capacity is expected to reach 1.08 million tons, with an average annual growth rate of 5.3%.
China’s EVA production capacity is mainly distributed in coastal and inland coal chemical base, East China EVA production capacity accounted for 66%, North China, Northwest accounted for 17% and 17%; from the point of view of downstream demand, East China and South China accounted for 90% of the total domestic consumption, and the two regions are clearly differentiated, East China due to the rapid expansion of rubber film enterprises and cable enterprises, photovoltaic materials, cable material consumption accounted for a relatively high, South China is mainly concentrated in the field of hot melt adhesive, shoe materials, to foam, hot melt adhesive and other consumption.
In recent years, with the development of large refining and coal to olefin, private enterprises have been flooded into the EVA track, the supply body diversification, has formed a state-run, joint venture, private three-legged situation.
Currently, only three domestic enterprises, Searborn, Lianhong, Formosa Plastics can produce PV grade transparent EVA, 2021-2022, although there are a number of devices put into operation, but for PV material, has not formed an effective increment, the current supply side is still dominated by Searborn, Lianhong, Formosa Plastics and overseas sources, the current device can produce PV material have been full production, the rest of the device to produce PV material is difficult, high viscosity, long time. The remaining units are difficult to switch to photovoltaic materials, with high viscosity and long production time blocking pipelines. In terms of new production capacity: Sinochem Quanzhou, Yangzi Petrochemical, Yanchang Yulin did not produce photovoltaic material; 2022, photovoltaic material increment is mainly ZPMC and LG device, Dushanzi 200,000 tons of EVA recently in the delivery, is expected to 9.30 material commissioning.
In the long term, EVA still has a lot of new capacity planning, but if the production of photovoltaic materials, still need a long production cycle: project construction cycle of about 3 years; after production, first production of LDPE after switching to EVA production needs 0.5-1 years; stable output of qualified products, downstream film manufacturers trial needs 3-6 months, the whole project cycle takes about 4 years, and not all output PV materials, tubular The upper limit of PV material yield is 80%-100% for the tube method and 10%-30% for the cover method.
4. EVA International Trade
EVA products cross-regional trade is not active to regional circulation; Northeast Asia is the core hub of global trade, with more than the major regions of trade, the total global trade between large regions in 2018 for 850,000 tons. North America, Northeast Asia, Western Europe for EVA net export region, of which the United States net exports of 90,000 tons, Northeast Asia net exports of 88,000 tons, Western Europe net exports of 90,000 tons, by country, mainland China, India is the world’s most important EVA importers. Active trade in Northeast Asia, China is the world’s largest importer. China’s EVA production capacity is currently insufficient, heavily dependent on imports, import dependence in the past five years continued to maintain at more than 50%, in 2021, China’s EVA imports reached 1,116,700 tons; import structure, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the three places accounted for 70% of China’s imports.
5. Demand for EVA
Thanks to the rapid development of photovoltaic and other industries, China’s EVA consumption is growing rapidly, and in 2021, China’s EVA consumption reached 2.053 million tons, with a compound growth rate of 9.52% over the past five years. The downstream consumption structure: photovoltaic material 37%, foam 28%, cable material 17%, hot melt adhesive 7%, coating 7%, agricultural film 1%, photovoltaic material as the first major consumption of downstream, the future is still expected to expand.
According to the CPIA global PV installed capacity forecast, and combined with the trend in the share of adhesive film materials, the future demand for EVA is measured, in the mean case.
1. From the installed data, the growth rate of global PV installation will reach a peak in 2021-2023, after which the growth rate will fall back relatively.
2. The incremental demand for EVA resin in the mean case reached 240,000 tons (2021), 210,000 tons (2022), 150,000 tons (2023), 100,000 tons (2024), respectively, combined with the new global PV material production capacity, the PV material is still in short supply in 2022, and the boom is expected to continue.
3. Subsequently, as domestic EVA production accelerates; EVA self-sufficiency rate will gradually rise, but still maintain a high degree of import dependence.
POE Market Status and Outlook
Polyolefin elastomers are a class of polyolefin materials made by copolymerising ethylene with propylene or other a-olefins (e.g. 1-butene, 1-hexene, 1-octene, etc.). Compared to polyolefin plastics, the content of copolymer monomers within the molecular chain is higher and the density is lower. Polyolefin elastomers are mainly ethylene propylene copolymers and ethylene/a-olefin copolymers, of which ethylene propylene copolymer elastomers include binary ethylene propylene rubber (EPM) and tertiary ethylene propylene rubber (EPDM) two, ethylene/a-olefin copolymer elastomers are mainly ethylene/a-olefin random copolymer (POE) and ethylene/a-olefin block copolymer (OBC) two.
Due to its special molecular structure, POE has good rheological properties, mechanical properties, anti-UV properties, good low temperature toughness, and also has good affinity with polyolefin, widely used in the field of modification and adhesive film preparation.
From the end-use point of view, the domestic market is dominated by the automotive industry, consumption accounted for 68%, polymer modification field accounted for 19%, 9% of the wire and cable field, other fields about 4%. China’s POE basic dependence on imports, the consumer market is still to be cultivated; the follow-up can replace part of the rubber and plastic.
POE supply status
Global POE production capacity is basically monopolized by foreign enterprises; China has not yet achieved industrial application. Global POE/POP total production capacity of more than 1 million tons / year, Dow Dow is the leader in the field of POE, its production capacity accounted for the highest; grades up to more than 20 varieties; melt finger range is widely distributed, 1-30g / 10min; research and development capacity, excellent product quality. In addition, Mitsui, LG, SK and other companies have also developed their own catalyst systems and have a place in the POE market, and the POE industry is highly concentrated.
At present, there are a number of domestic enterprises to tackle POE technology, of which Wanhua Chemical has made the fastest progress, has completed the pilot test, is expected to 2024 200,000 tons of POE plant put into operation, in addition, Maoming Petrochemical, Sierbund, Satellite Petrochemical, Wison Engineering have proposed planning POE or has been in the pilot stage, POE is expected to accelerate the localization process.
EVA and POE performance comparison
In the field of photovoltaics, EVA and POE performance has its advantages and disadvantages, EVA lower price, easy processing, storage resistance, fast cross-linking, and good bonding performance with the glass & backsheet; POE advantage mainly lies in good material performance, excellent resistance to PID performance, high resistivity, water vapour barrier rate, low temperature and yellowing resistance.
The disadvantages of EVA mainly lie in: vinyl acetate in the light, oxygen, moisture and heat environment is prone to hydrolysis, producing acetic acid, corrosion of the cell surface, welding tape, etc., but also with the Na reaction in the glass, can generate a large number of free-moving Na ions, resulting in power attenuation; at the same time EVA is prone to yellowing in the light and heat environment, affecting light transmission, resulting in the overall power loss of the module.
The disadvantages of POE are: POE polarity is low, the polar additives solvent precipitation to the film surface during the film processing, resulting in a smooth surface easy to shift; processing difficulties, the film lip easy to hang material; POE particle price overall more expensive than EVA. The overall view is that in the next few years, the application of POE particles in the film particles has a tendency to expand, mainly due to the following factors.
1. N-type battery: the current P-type battery photoelectric conversion efficiency is close to the upper limit of 24.5%, while the upper limit of N-type battery conversion efficiency is higher; P-type battery in the silicon wafer doping of boron oxygen complex will cause the potential decay accelerated, N-type battery doping scale, anti-attenuation performance is better. N-type battery PID effect in the light surface is more sensitive to PID decay large N-type components, after the light recovery; will also It causes irreversible damage. At the same time, when N-type cells use single-glass package, the water vapour barrier of the back plate is poor, so the choice of POE adhesive film for encapsulation can reduce the overall water vapour transmission rate of the module and extend the module’s service time, therefore, the promotion of N-type cells can increase the amount of POE.
2. Large battery power: In recent years, the power of different types of battery components have significantly increased, heat generation increases, the temperature will have a greater impact on the peak power, open circuit voltage and other electrical properties of the battery, so the electrical performance of the packaging materials to come higher and higher.
3. Cover glass thinning and double-glass components increase: According to CPIA data, the current glass thickness mainly