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The European Solar PV Alliance (ESIA) is an industry initiative launched by the European Commission. It brings together companies, institutes, and organisations in the European PV industry with the primary goal of proposing practical solutions to enhance the PV value chain in Europe. The steering committee includes the European Commission, EIT Innoenergy (secretariat), European Solar Manufacturing Council (ESMC), and SolarPower Europe. After an active and collaborative analysis process during winter, the fifth ESIA recommendation paper has been released.

With nearly 97% of the world’s production capacity, the manufacturing of silicon wafers, used to make photovoltaic (PV) cells, is highly concentrated in China. The entire industrial ecosystem for ingot-wafer production, including materials, equipment, and consumables is also located there. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) latest communication of the “Catalogue of Technologies Prohibited or Restricted from Export” includes “large scale solar wafer technologies, ultra-high efficient ingot casting mono/multi crystalline technology, black silicon preparation technology and „others“, which implies a potential restriction on exporting three technologies related to the PV manufacturing industry: wafers, black silicon, and ingot casting. If the three categories are added to the restrictions list, manufacturers will need technology export licenses from the respective provincial departments to export such products to support non-Chinese manufacturing industries.

As part of the efforts to strengthen the European Union’s (EU) energy security after the global energy market disruption caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the European Commission (EC) created the European Solar PV Industry Alliance (ESIA) and set a goal to reach 30 GW of annual PV manufacturing capacity along the value chain by 2025.

Furthermore, the EC launched the NetZero Industry Act (NZIA) which aims to facilitate a rapid transition to climate neutrality by expanding the EU’s manufacturing capacity for net-zero technologies. The main objective of the NZIA related to solar PV is to ensure that by 2030, the manufacturing capacity of solar PV in the EU approaches or reaches at least 40% of the Union’s annual deployment needs. The mentioned export restriction announced by China raises concerns about reaching these goals. Ingot and wafer manufacturing is the most vulnerable stage in the PV supply chain in terms of dependency and difficulty to re-shore.

To provide a clear overview of this significant phase, this report delves into the ingot-wafer manufacturing value chain. The purpose of the report is to identify and understand who the main industry players outside China are, particularly within Europe for Ingot and wafer manufacturing companies, and their main suppliers of materials, consumables, and equipment.

The main authors of this report are Oscar Rodolfo Ortega Alvarado (Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE), Johan Lindahl (European Solar Manufacturing Council) .

Image copyright: Norsun. 

Johan Lindahl
ESMC Secretary General

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