Day 2: Solar Module Innovations Conference

Solar PV Technology Expanding Room For Advanced Cell Architectures While Holding On To Reliability: TaiyangNews Findings On Day 2

Day 2: Solar Module Innovations Conference

TaiyangNews Managing Director Michael Schmela in conversation with the panelists - Enerparc’s Stefan Müller, LONGi Solar’s Jason Yan, JA Solar’s Kuan Chen and Trina Solar’s Gao Lei on Day 2 of our Solar Module Innovations Conference. (Photo Credit: TaiyangNews)

  • Day 2 of TaiyangNews Solar Module Innovations Conference delved into technology progress for utility scale projects
  • TaiyangNews shared preliminary results of our upcoming report on the subject
  • Participants discussed their learnings from recent module technology innovations, including 182mm and 210 mm sized panels
  • Panel Discussion revolved around the need to innovate and factors that could influence future technology changes in the field

After an insightful Day 1 of TaiyangNews Solar Module Innovations Conference where participants talked about innovations in building attached PV (BAPV) and building-integrated PV ((BIPV) modules, Day 2 was dedicated to module technology progress in ground mounted power plants.

In the opening presentation, Shravan ChunduriHead of Technology at TaiyangNews, provided an update on advancement of commercially available modules as preliminary results of our upcoming report on Solar Module Innovations 2021.

Having scouted over 400 products from 27 module makers, Chunduri found producers increasingly moving towards advanced cell architectures as TOPCon, IBC, HJT, etc., after reaching around 21.5% efficiency levels for PERC.

He also sees products becoming more applications sensitive, and the trend towards blending many advanced technologies into a single product as bifacial, multi busbar (MBB) and half-cell, low gap soldering.

In his presentation, LONGi Solar’s Senior Product Marketing Manager Jason Yan provided insights on optimal module size and advanced smart soldering technology used by the company. He stressed that 72-cell M10 or 182mm wafer sized modules are the optimal module design for large-scale PV power plant, after evaluating the whole value chain including shipping logistics.

Taking the discussion further, another proponent of the 182mm sized modules, JA Solar’s Technical Support Manager Kuan Chen shared learnings from using 182mm modules for utility scale applications. Referring to the company’s flagship product DeepBlue 3.0, Chen said its current technology of Percium, 11-busbar, round ribbon, half-cell measures, can boost overall power output of a utility scale installation while offering lower LCOE.

He added that in the future, JA Solar will introduce DeepBlue 4.0 but did not offer a specific timeline. JA Solar currently does have a pilot production line of heterojunction (HJT) which it may take to mass production in the future, but this would factor in high costs for the technology in terms of production equipment.

Trina Solar’s Senior Product Manager Gao Lei shared background on the reliability of 600 W+ ultra high power modules and the company’s innovative integrated delivery solution that he claimed help lower freight costs by $0.33 per W, and also bring down overall carbon footprint.

In addition to being a solar module and tracker supplier, during the conference Lei also introduced Trina Solar’s new PV project design assistant, enabling project planners to design PV power plants. Overall industry partner support for 210 modules is growing, emphasized Lei. He said that Trina Solar’s led 600W+ Open Innovation Ecological Alliance has grown the number of total members to 89 and counting in less than 2 years and includes equipment makers to mounting structure suppliers (see 39 PV Firms Back 600 W+ Solar PV Modules). Lei provided several technical solutions that addressed concerns about the very large form factor of the 210mm based modules, such as special transport package solutions for vertical transport or stands that help installers to better handle the products at the installation site.

Still on the development of trend of size and advancement in system compatibility of 210 mm sized modules, Risen Energy’s Chief Pre-Sales Engineer Pengfei Zou stressed that these modules get more output, while bringing down production cost by 20% compared to 182 mm sized panels.

Sticking to this module size continues to be the future plan of the Chinese company as it aims to bring 700W modules based on n-type cell technology to mass production in 2022. Recently, the company also brought out its PV module with an alloy steel frame which it said mitigates the inherent carbon footprint of aluminum.

Solar backsheet and encapsulation producer Cybrid’s Senior Product Manager Stephen Gong sees a combination of EPE and EVA as gaining popularity to address PID. He also added that high-reflection black backsheet has 2.15% power gain and aging test shows very stable performance when used for applications as patterned backsheet or non-fluoro based rooftop modules.

Gong shared that while Chinese module makers and installers mostly opt for fluoro-based backsheets, in European countries there is more demand for fluoro-free products to address environmental concerns and recyclability of backsheets.

Panel discussion

Moderated by TaiyangNews Managing Director Michael Schmela, the panel discussion revolved around the need to innovate, market response and future focus areas.

LONGi Solar’s Jason Yan counted reliability and cost-effectiveness as the major asks of the clients. He added that his company continues to believe in further exploiting the potential of PERC cell technology, which could reach efficiencies in manufacturing close to 24%, even as LONGi Solar explores other advanced architectures as high-efficiency N-type TOPCon and HJT.

Seeing a future for higher efficiency products, JA Solar’s Kuan Chen believes there is a need to look at lowering overall costs, through direct and indirect avenues including for instance, BOS costs. Reliability is key, he said.

While very open to innovation, solar developer, EPC and IPP company Enerparc’s COO Stefan Müller emphasized that it is important to think about customers when innovating. ‘Local banks are conservative to finance cutting edge technology’ that’s not been able to prove itself on the field over a long period of time, he said.

Sustainability is a growing concern for green energy offtakers in the corporate circles, explained Müller, as they want to be sure of the environment impact of the products used for the actual installation from where they will procure clean energy. He said, it would be great to have more local module production from the big integrated companies to address such concerns.

Trina Solar’s Gao Lei agreed on the need to contribute to lowering global CO2 emissions as an industry, and also as a project partner for customers. He said his company is working on various strategies, including incorporating recycling materials into the products while ensuring reliability factor remains high on priority.

Müller also spoke about the need to have skilled workforce in the field, while pointing towards growing vacuum of qualified electricians in some countries of Europe which makes installing a solar power system quite challenging.

Day 1 conference summary is available on our website, also featuring an exclusive interview with Dr. Zhengrong Shi, a solar pioneer and founder of Sunman Energy (see Day 1: Solar Module Innovations Conference).

About The Author

Anu Bhambhani

Anu Bhambhani is the Senior News Editor of TaiyangNews. Anu is our solar news whirlwind. At TaiyangNews she covers everything that is of importance in the world of solar power.

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