Following a successful year in the Photovoltaic (PV) sector, The Linde Group has outlined its plans to invest in the key solar players.

Linde plans to capitalise on the return to growth in the photovoltaic (PV) industry seen in 2010. Last year, the Group obtained 25 new contracts and renewals with various thin-film and crystalline silicon manufacturers worldwide.

With last year’s sector activity in mind, it is perhaps unsurprising that Linde has made ambitious predictions regarding the future in 2011. The Group identified three key emerging trends, namely;

1. PV manufacturers outside of Asia are likely to increase their focus on application-specific niche markets such as Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV).
2. Further reductions in the manufacturing cost of solar panels, especially in thin film, which is re-energising on a large scale in China.
3. Continued cost and environmental drivers – Linde expects to partner with customers on more projects to replace NF3 with its innovative F2 gas technology.

Dean O’Connor, Head of Market Development & Technology at Linde’s electronics business unit, commented, “Indicators are that later in the year, we could see an oversupply of modules which will lead to consolidation and further re-organisation of the leading solar players. Linde’s strategy is to focus on investment with these leading players who have a strong cost base, the best in-house technology and the strongest sales channels.”

2010: A calendar of success
O’Connor illustrated the regional bias of growth during 2010, “In 2010, we saw emerging markets in Asia dominate the more mature industry players in Europe.”

Just some of the companies involved in last year’s boom included, Schueco and Bosch in Germany, GCL and Renesolar in China, as well as business expansion with Suntech, Trina and Motech.

This boom in business saw Linde’s global PV customer capacity treble to 17.4GW. According to the firm, the majority of growth was fed by client activity in Greater China, in which a new production capacity of nearly 13.5GW was established.