TOPCon cell architecture seems to have attracted one of the leading module suppliers, JinkoSolar. Unlike several of its competitors, who are rather confined to making prototype showcasing products, JinkoSolar has started serious commercial activities on an industrial scale. TaiyangNews has talked to Dany Qian, Global Vice President at JinkoSolar about various techno-commercial aspects of TOPCon along with the status of the technology at the Chinese company.
Dany Qian is a Global Vice President at JinkoSolar. As part of JinkoSolar’s leadership team, Qian has extensive experience on scaling businesses in the solar industry and led the execution of JinkoSolar’s market positioning strategy through the company’s transformation into an industry leader. She played an important role in navigating the company through the turbulent time in solar industry and rapid changes. Qian has also been very active in the global sustainability development.
TaiyangNews: JinkoSolar has increased the focus on TOPCon segment; at SNEC introduced the high-power module with 625 W; Does this mean p-type PERC has hit its limit?
Dany Qian: As we can see, PERC is near its upper efficiency limit of 24%. P-type solar cell limitations are driving the PV industry’s attention towards high efficiency n-type solar cells which are promising because today, for example N-type TOPCon cells in JinkoSolar’s mass production have reached efficiencies greater than 24.5% in average and 25.4% with best cells.
TaiyangNews: TOPCon and HJT are two high efficiency routes; it is obvious you took TOPCon direction; what is the reason?
Dany Qian: Higher capital and operational costs required for HJT compared to TOPCon may be one of the many reasons but more critical is the commercialization feasibility. Because we fully understand that the differentiation between R&D in-house pilot-line builds and ramped mass production is huge. In terms of efficiency potential, manufacturing process maturity and simplicity, less silver consumption, wider operating condition tolerance, yield rate, quality consistency, testing methods, TOPCon is obviously preferred by manufacturers. Jinkosolar for example, has successfully moved TOPCon from R&D to pilot-line to mass-production, in a methodical and systematic manner. So n-TOPCon has all the attributes as a feasible option of transferring this cell concept from laboratory research towards industrial manufacturing.
TaiyangNews: How serious are you about TOPCon technology?
Dany Qian: We bet on it at least in the coming 3 to 5 years before perovskite and tandem solar cell industrialization comes next.
TaiyangNews: What is your current capacity for TOPCon? Are you also operating any pilot project with HJT?
Dany Qian: TOPCon capacity will be 16 GW by end of 2022. We keep an eye on HJT closely but not operating any concrete project with HJT as of now.
TaiyangNews: What are the major bottlenecks with TOPCon that still have to be addressed?
Dany Qian: As we know, TOPCon that upgraded from PERT technology has been widely used and stepped into a relatively mature and stable stage. As such there are no bottlenecks, but yes, like any other technology there is a high scope for further improvement. To be specific, optimization of processing, especially streamlined and simplified process can improve the competitiveness of the technology.
TaiyangNews: What is the status of the current supply chain for TOPCon – production equipment, deposition technologies and metallization pastes?
Dany Qian: The supply chain of TOPCon is already well-established. Production equipment, deposition technologies and metallization pastes have mature solutions.
TaiyangNews: What is the application method you are following for the application of tunneling oxide and poly for TOPCon?
Dany Qian: We at JinkoSolar use the LPCVD based TOPCon route, which to our understanding is a more mature technical route suitable for commercial mass production.
TaiyangNews: How important is the bifaciality for TOPCon architecture?
Dany Qian: The advantage of TOPCon products is the higher power generation. A better bifaciality helps to increase the power generation on the rear side of module. Theoretically, TOPCon’s significant advantage of higher efficiency combined with higher bifaciality will result in lowest LCOE among different technologies available now for almost all scenarios.
TaiyangNews: What is your current champion and average cell efficiency specs for modules?
Dany Qian: Our current champion cell efficiency is 25.4%, and the average is 24.5%. The best of our Tiger Neo modules range are offered with 620 W power rating that are built with 78 of M10 cell and module efficiency is over 22% module efficiency. And our spec for bifaciality of Tiger Neo range is 80% +/-5%.
TaiyangNews: Currently, TOPCon architecture is mainly adapted on the rear, how practical or industrially feasible to implement is it on the front side?
Dany Qian: I would say it is possible in theory, but there are several challenges that have to be addressed for the technology to be ready for industrial production.
TaiyangNews: What do you think will be the global production capacity of TOPCon by end 2022?
Dany Qian: By end of next year, TOPCon global capacity could reach 40 GW to 50 GW – and I am being a little conservative here.
TaiyangNews: What are the targeted markets for your TOPCon product range – primarily rooftop or utility segments?
Dany Qian: Our product range addresses all kinds of demands and applications. The 72 and 78 cells mono and bifacial TOPCon products are specifically targeted at the utility segment, while the 60 and 54 cells based products are ideal for rooftop applications.
TaiyangNews: Thank you for the interview.
TaiyangNews will organize on Jan. 25, 2022 at 10am CET a webinar on ‘The Time Is Ripe For TOPCon Solar Modules’ with experts from JinkoSolar, testing firm TÜV Nord and research institute ISFH provide the latest on the performance of TOPCon technology. Join us and register for free here.