Day 1: High Efficiency Solar Technologies

Solar PV Leading Global Energy Market Transformation, Led By PERC Cell Technology; Need To Establish Supply Chain Beyond China

Day 1: High Efficiency Solar Technologies

Speaking with TaiyangNews Managing Director Michael Schmela, Dr. Peter Fath, CEO of RCT Solutions and CTO of Kalyon PV said a local PV supply chain is what Europe needs to establish a competitive and sustainable solar ecosystem. (Photo Credit: TaiyangNews)

  • Day 1 of TaiyangNews High Efficiency Solar Technologies Conference had VDMA’s Dr. Markus Fischer estimating global module shipments in 2021 to reach over 160 GW
  • LONGi Solar and Trina Solar shared the evolution of solar module sizes to the current trend of large wafer sizes
  • Peter Fath stressed on building multi-GW level integrated solar PV manufacturing outside of China for a sustainable industrial development in Europe

It took its own sweet time from the time of invention to enter mass production for Passivated Emitter and Rear Contact (PERC) but then it quickly took over the market and is now the world’s most widely used solar PV technology. Adding a few extra steps to silicon solar cell manufacturing boosts the efficiency of PERC solar cells, making it a very cost-efficient option.

However, mainstream PERC cell efficiencies are fast reaching their peak of between 23% and 24%. To see their evolution right up to larger wafer sizes was the subject of discussion on day 1 of the TaiyangNews High Efficiency Solar Technologies Conference.

In his keynote address, VDMA’s International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaics (ITRPV) Steering Committee Chair Dr. Markus Fischer spoke about high efficiency solar developments from the latest ITRPV. He believes solar PV technology is leading the transformation of the global energy market and in 2021 the world will see more than 160 GW of solar module shipments. However, the average module spot market price at the end of the year is likely to reach $0.25 per W, up from $0.21 per W at the end of 2020 when 135 GW was shipped.

Even as PERC continues to be the PV workhorse for the global market and there are competing technologies emerging, PERC will continue to lead installations for some time to come. The world of solar PV should be getting ready for a scenario when solar installations are at a TW/year installation level. Fischer pointed out that the industry needs to ensure we have enough production capacity and tools to ensure a seamless transition.

Agreeing with Fischer, the CTO of Kalyon PV and CEO of RCT Solutions, Dr. Peter Fath said if the world needs to meet the climate targets with the help of solar PV technology, dependence on Chinese alone wouldn’t help. Outside China the industry should start moving towards multi-GW level fully integrated production fabs, stated Fath, which could majorly save costs.

He also believes in the times to come solar fabs will be not only be high on automation, but also on artificial intelligence (AI). Fath shared his experience setting up Kalyon in Turkey as Europe’s largest fully integrated module factory, emphasizing it is also competitive to produce modules with integrated wafering and cell lines outside China.

Citing high manufacturing cost of semiconductor chips and PV cells with very larg wafer sized modules, LONGi Solar’s Senior Product Manager Dr. Max Li stressed on 182mm wafer sized cell modules as the optimal size for utility scale solar power plants. He stressed that future technology innovation should be focused toward efficiency improvement.

Trina Solar’s Senior Product Manager Gao Lei delved into the value and reliability of ultra-high power solar modules during his presentation. Batting for the company’s flagship 210mm sized Vertex solar module, Lei listed the benefits such modules bring to an installation. He said the Vertex module design has undergone rigorous tests and proves high reliability of mechanical performance. The company has been working on creating a suitable ecosystem for its large size modules, including educating clients on effective installation techniques, and the like.

Speaking with the audience at the conference, Head of Product Research Development, R&D Center, Silicon Wafer Business Unit of LONGi Silicon, Yichung Wang shared an overview of wafer supply. She emphasized due to the tight supply of polysilicon, thinner wafers are increasingly pushed into the market and cell makers support the move by adapting to the required optimization. While the thin wafer trend is not clear with n-type, the push for thinner wafers in p-type is very apparent – changing to 165 µm in Q4-2021 step by step from 175 µm a year ago. Regarding wafer sizes, what was a prediction earlier and has now turned into a reality, the demand for M6—mainstream till end of H1/2021—is going down, while demand for M10 is increasing. She also emphasized that global demand for G12 is increasing.

Executive Fire Chat

TaiyangNews Managing Director Michael Schmela roped in Dr. Peter Fath of Kalyon PV and RCT Solutions to discuss the feasibility and need for setting up solar PV production capacity outside of China.

Speaking from the experience of setting up 1.2 GW solar module fab in Turkey for Kalyon, Fath shared his understanding of the strengths and challenges when sourcing from Western and Chinese suppliers.

While it is the Chinese that score over their western counterparts when it comes to variety, cost and at scale production levels especially with regard to the initial stages of production process including polysilicon, wafer and ingot, Western companies are still able to offer production machine solutions for cell and module production.

According to Fath, what Europe needs right now is a local supply chain for solar PV products which would bring price parity for European products vis-à-vis Chinese, especially when factoring in the flaring shipping costs.

If there are competencies and budget, Europeans should build multi-GW level fabs right from metallurgical silicon to modules with the aspect of sustainability on mind, which will enable them to control costs, and also conduct research and development work locally to make further better products. As to the question of sustainability in case wen the solar product prices suddenly goes south, Fath stressed that the industry must be attractive enough to lure investors with sufficient margins to build multi-GW level factories in the backdrop of solar power already being the cheapest renewable power source on the plant. There is no need to push solar prices to uncompetitive levels, solar is already the lowest cos power generation source, he underscored.

On Dec. 15, Day 2 of our event, Heterojunction (HJT) cell technology will be the focus with leading industry stakeholders presenting from research (Forschungszentrum Julich GmbH), cell/module manufacturing (JA Solar, Risen Energy, HuaSun), cell production equipment (Ideal Energy), and process materials (Hangzhou First, DKEM). Registration to the event is free here.

About The Author

Anu Bhambhani

SENIOR NEWS EDITOR Anu is our solar news whirlwind. At TaiyangNews, she covers everything that is of importance in the world of solar power. In the past 9 years that she has been associated with TaiyangNews, she has covered over thousands of stories, and analysis pieces on markets, technology, financials, and more on a daily basis. She also hosts TaiyangNews Conferences and Webinars. Prior to joining TaiyangNews, Anu reported on sustainability, management, and education for leading print dailies in India. [email protected]

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