BY MEHMET KARA
Q&A with Ersan Tufekci, Executive Board Member and Vice President of Operations at KalyonPv
WHAT IS THE CURRENT STATE OF YOUR SOLAR PANEL MANUFACTURING OPERATIONS?
The first solar panel manufacturing plant, which we set up as KalyonPv was an ingot, wafer, cell, and panel factory with an annual capacity of 500 MW. That facility has manufactured around 800MW in solar panels to date. We opened our second manufacturing plant, also with a capacity of 500 MW, at the beginning of this year.
THE SECOND FACTORY HAS THE SAME CAPACITY AS THE FIRST MANUFACTURING PLANT. DO THEY USE THE SAME TECHNOLOGY?
The capacity is the same. But the second facility has more advanced technology. The first factory was a production plant based on first-generation technology, which we call G1. Instead of G1, M10-type ingot, wafer, cell, and panel production capacity was set up at the second manufacturing plant. So far, we have had a production of around 200MW at that facility. Half of the production at the new facility has been supplied to the market while the remainder has been given to YEKA 1 SPP in Karapinar, in Konya.
COULD YOU SPECIFY THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE FIRST AND THE SECOND MANUFACTURING PLANTS?
The new factory has produced 540 watts of panels by using the highest-efficiency technology available. The localization rate has also been increased. The localization rate, which stood at 75% at the first facility, has been raised to over 80% at the second manufacturing plant. Turkish engineers and R&D employees were largely responsible for the building of the new facility. We are planning to continue production at the first facility next year as well. Because we know that Turkey needs panels with a high localization rate. Although the first factory seems older than the second facility, its localization rate hovers around 70%. This rate means an economic advantage for us, a favorable contribution to the economy, and an advantageous level for the sector.
TECHNOLOGY CHANGES RAPIDLY IN THIS FIELD. ISN’T IT HARD TO ADAPT?
We are closely following new cell technologies. Our engineering team follows developments to renew our production infrastructure with new technologies. We know that the sector is rapidly developing. That’s why it’s important for the companies that operate integrated facilities to follow trends and adapt quickly. In fact, we aim to be a pioneer and make a major contribution from Turkey to the global solar industry in the coming years as a result of this adaptation and innovation. We consider this an important mission.
WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT STATUS IN TERMS OF EXPORTS?
We want to make sales to the U.S. due to demand coming from this market. We’ll obtain a UL (Underwriters Laboratories Inc.) certificate for the new M10 product by the end of this year. The UL certificate is necessary for sales to the U.S. We’ll then be able to make a high volume of sales to the U.S. market next year.
HOW WILL THIS STEP AFFECT YOU?
As a company we aim to enter a list called Tier-1, which consists of the highest quality and largest panel manufacturers around the world. As part of this goal, we’ll be the first Turkish company and brand to enter this list by playing a role in projects carried out by global firms. Export to the U.S. market is one of the key steps in this process.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT TURKEY’S EXISTING PANEL PRODUCTION CAPACITY?
The surge in Turkey’s photovoltaic (PV) production volume paves the way for the country to rise in the global ranking. This situation increases the demand and confidence of major dealers and EPC (Engineering Procurement Construction) firms in panels manufactured in Turkey. This hike is also a good signal for the development of the sector, employment, and the development of the supplier infrastructure that will emerge in the country.
ARE THERE ANY QUALITY PROBLEMS IN PANELS MANUFACTURED IN TURKEY?
High-quality panels are manufactured in Turkey. This increases the attractiveness of Turkish products to global companies. However, a common problem among panel manufacturers is the certification process, which is carried out only in the care of accredited companies abroad. These services should be carried out by globally accredited local companies in order to facilitate local opportunities and a faster and more economic certification process in the country. This requires testing quality investments in parallel with production in the sector.
IS TURKEY PROMOTING THE TACTIC OF A ‘FACTORY THAT CAN BUILD A FACTORY’ IN THE SOLAR FIELD?
PV panel production lines have been set up with imported equipment in Turkey. Localization of these production lines, the emergence of local brands, local production of spare parts, and having an industry that designs and manufactures production equipment are just as important as being able to produce panels. We can be pioneers with the support of technological innovations and R&D and innovation investments.