- TrendForce analysts forecast a substantial part of PERC cell technology phasing out over next 3 years
- The mismatch between existing and projected silicon capacity and growth of n-type technology may lead to shortage of high-quality silicon and wafers for n-type cells
- At the same time, there may be a risk of n-type wafer oversupply if the n-type cell rollout falls short of expectations
The growing demand for high efficiency n-type solar cell technology globally may just end up phasing out a substantial part of PERC cell technology within next 3 years, says TrendForce.
For now though thanks to the price difference between N-P type wafers, PERC technology is anticipated to retain its leading position in the market, although the penetration rate of TOPCon cells will accelerate.
The global cumulative production capacity of polysilicon is expected to reach 2.072 million tons by 2023-end, with actual output of around 1.483 million tons. This will be enough to support more than 600 GW of solar panel consumption.
When compared to expected annual installations this year ranging between 370 GW and 390 GW, analysts point out at the industry will be staring at a clear polysilicon oversupply.
Additionally, analysts also caution that the robust demand and limited output of n-type may lead to a ‘sporadic’ shortage of high-quality silicon materials and wafers tailored for n-type cells, thus leading to a ‘noticeable’ price disparity between n-type silicon and wafers, and p-type counterparts. Hence, for silicon firms n-type silicon offers better profitability.
As for silicon wafer capacity, by 2023-end it is projected to expand to 921.6 GW with manufacturers rapidly transitioning to n-type, including rectangular silicon wafers. This will add to the supply challenges for p-type wafers.
Total wafer production capacity is estimated to reach around 1,172 GW by this year end with n-type TOPCon accounting for 57.7% or 676 GW.
Conversely, there may be a risk of n-type wafer oversupply if the n-type cell rollout falls short of expectations, warn the analysts.
The aggregate global solar panel production capacity of around 1,034 GW by this year-end will have 335.4 GW of new capacity addition, led by China. Given the country’s experience and advanced level of technology in this market space, TrendForce believes that the global competitive landscape for solar panels won’t see any marked changes in the near term.