As Energy Costs Soar, the Solar Energy Market Offers Opportunities

By David Savastano, Ink World Editor | 10.02.08

The printing ink industry continues to feel the effects of higher raw material and energy costs. Even the news that crude oil prices came down in the past month provided very little benefit, as the ink industry and its suppliers find themselves with the increasing challenge of competing for raw materials against larger industries in the global market.            

The battering of the economy during the past year, culminating in the problems on Wall Street in the past month, figures to further exacerbate the global economy in the coming months.
The printing industry and its suppliers throughout the supply chain have felt the impact of all of these economic forces. It is no surprise that the publication ink market has been adversely affected by the economy and raw material costs, as I note in my article beginning on page 22. However, leaders in the packaging ink market are also noting a slowdown as well, which I detail in my article on packaging inks beginning on page 26.
We can already see one of the likely end results of all of these economic challenges – BASF issued a tender offer to acquire Ciba. As Sean Milmo notes in his article beginning on page 18, Ciba’s board of directors accepted BASF’s tender offer, pointing to the present state of the economy and raw materials as examples of the difficulties in conducting business today.
Despite of all of these economic challenges, there is some good news to report as well. Within the traditional segments, ink companies are developing new technologies in the publication and packaging fields that should help their customers better compete in the marketplace. What is really intriguing is the potential for opportunities within new areas. For example, higher energy costs has helped the solar energy industry flourish.
The key to the potential growth of solar technologies is in the development of low-cost flexible thin-film solar cells, which can be mass-produced by printing. There is a wide variety of ink companies, ranging from innovative start-ups focused specifically on the printed electronic and photovoltaic (PV) markets to major international ink companies that are now positioned in the solar energy field; industry leaders offer their thoughts in my article, “The Growing Market for Solar Cells,” which begins on page 32.
As the PV industry moves forward, our reliance on crude oil will start to diminish and these ink manufacturers will likely enjoy their own gains, which is a win-win situation for all.

David Savastano
Ink World Editor