The booming solar encapsulant film market has prompted one Taiwanese supplier to cease manufacturing foam grades for footwear altogether and instead focus 1500 tonnes/month of its capacity on this application alone. The supplier in question, USI Corp. (Taipei) has now outsourced footwear grade production to sister company Asia Polymer Corp. (Taipei).
Solar grade prices have peaked at $3300 per tonne, according to Kevin Huang, Deputy Marketing Manager at USI. "But what's now driving overall EVA pricing are the foam and hot melt markets because moves such as ours mean less supply of such grades is available," he notes. Foam grades are reportedly currently pegged at $2850-$2900 per tonne CIF Ningbo, while hot melt grades have reached $3250.
Huang does feel the market for EVA sheet may have peaked, however, because sheet converters have over-invested in extrusion capacity in Japan, China and the U.S. just as some countries are starting to withdraw subsidies for solar panel insulation and a large inventory of unsold solar panels starts tp build....