According to company Energy Business Vice President Lin Tien-yu, the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) offers a 30% investment tax credit to encourage the establishment of PV power-generating facilities and subsidies for the manufacturing of PV products in the US, but AU Optronics (AUO) continues to observe and will not invest to set up a PV module factory in the US for the time being.
The construction of PV plants abroad heavily depends on local government regulations, however Lin said that while rules are expected to change fast, establishment and operation would take much longer.
With changes in government legislation being the primary culprit in both cases, Lin said that AUO previously installed rooftop PV systems in the US but has since shut down the company operation and installed a PV module factory in the Czech Republic before closing it in 2019. According to Lin, in reaction to IRA, AUO is being cautious with its plans to invest in building a PV module facility in the US.
AUP manufactures PV modules for the energy sector and invests in the construction of rooftop PV systems and PV power plants for internal use. It offers contract engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) services to owners of such facilities in addition to putting in energy storage systems for customers, according to Lin.
According to Lin, AUO uses either internally produced PV modules or PV modules from other Taiwan-based manufacturers for self-established PV power-generating facilities. However, Lin said that AUO has established a Taiwan sales representative for PV modules made by LONGi Green Energy Technology in China and Hanwha Q Cells in South Korea, and that AUO may choose to employ these modules because they are 20–30% less expensive than those made domestically.
According to Lin, AUO anticipates that by the middle of 2023, the total installation capacity of independently built rooftop PV systems and PV power-generating stations will reach 500MWp, or 500 million kWh of annual energy production.
According to Lin, AUO creates energy storage solutions for use by power users, transmission and distribution systems, and renewable energy producing facilities. Energy storage systems’ hardware, software, and operational management are integrated depending on a variety of application scenarios, including AFC (automatic frequency control), micro-girds, business users, and home users, according to Lin.
According to Lin, AUO has worked with affiliate Darfon Electronics to install energy storage systems with small to medium installation capacities, as well as with Delta Electronics to install an AFC energy storage system with a 2MWp installation capacity.
AUO will be demonstrating a cleaning robot for maintaining PV modules as well as an AI- and drone-based solution for assessing PV module health at Energy Taiwan 2022, which will be held in Taipei from October 19–21.
According to Lin, cleaning all of the PV modules on a rooftop PV system or PV power station with a 1MWp installation capacity takes four people one to one and a half days to complete, but a worker working with four cleaning robots may complete the task in just one day. Additionally, Lin noted that robot-based cleaning can successfully remove stains from PV modules and enables measurement of cleaning performance, which reduces labor costs for maintenance by roughly 60%.
Lin explained that AUO’s in-house developed cloud computing-based surveillance system can identify faulty PV modules and their locations for immediately dispatching maintenance staff members to repair them thanks to drones outfitted with infrared thermal imaging sensors and combined with AI-based real-time monitoring. According to Lin, this diagnostic approach is far more effective than worker patrol-based assessment of the operational status of PV modules.