- JinkoSolar is targeting global utility scale solar market for its 580 W Tiger Pro modules as it believes such projects require panels with output power of 500 Wp and beyond
- Multi-busbars along with tiling ribbon, as used in Tiger Pro, maximize the utilization of the module area facilitated by seamless soldering with round ribbons
- It reduces the number of strings for same rated capacity leading to a reduction in the land and corresponding BOS costs
- Management aims to start mass production for Tiger Pro in Q3/2020 and ramp up in 2021
JinkoSolar entered the 500+W module supplier club with the introduction of the Tiger Pro module series, which is the next generation of the Tiger series launched last year. As with its predecessor, the new Tiger Pro series also combines several technologies—half cell, multi-busbars interconnection and its proprietary Tiling Ribbon technology—, which collectively helps in achieving 580 W power output for the series’ top products. TaiyangNews spoke to JinkoSolar Vice President Dany Qian about the background, technology details, rollout plans and applications for Tiger Pro series.
TaiyangNews: 2020 has not started well for the PV industry. Initially there were concerns on the supply side due to the lockdown in China, but now there are concerns on the demand side. Could you please give us JinkoSolar’s view of the supply and demand sides?
Dany Qian: In line with our guidance given before coronavirus, our Q1/2020 business showed a small sequential decline. However, the decline itself was much less than our expectation 3 months ago due to our ability to resume production quickly, a pick-up in demand as well as continued ramp of the Tiger 475Wp and Swan bifacial modules.
Moving into Q2/2020, we have not seen a significant reduction in orders from our customers so far, although we do observe some project suspensions or postponements, and disruption in the DG market, particularly in Latin America, Europe and Japan. Meanwhile, we have also observed better demand from regions like Vietnam, China, India, the Middle East and Africa as compared to 3 months ago driven by trends such as grid parity, etc.
Looking ahead to H2/2020, given the market uncertainty, we take a more conservative view as we expect COVID-19 to continue to bring some level of disruption to the DG market demand and postpone some projects to 2021. For the whole year of 2020, we now forecast the overall market will be at 100-110 GW, with growth being flattish or slightly declining compared to 2019. For JinkoSolar, although this uncertainty exists, we are on track to fulfill our initial shipment target based on great order visibility, and we believe we can do better and continue to grow in 2020.
TaiyangNews: What are the strategies to stay competitive in a difficult situation like this?
Dany Qian: Better overall capacity utilization, high level of globalization and geographically distributed footprint, our leadership in technology development and ramp up remains strong. We continue to provide value to our customers and drive aggressive cost reduction. Also, strong and healthy financials, a loyal and diversified customer base, a resilient supply chain, as well as accumulated 55 GW panel deployment.
Another way to stay competitive is to focus on technology development. JinkoSolar has always been at the forefront in developing technologies that can increase performance and reduce costs and, in turn, provide better LCOE to our customers. The introduction of the new Tiger Pro series is part of this effort. We are proud to announce that it is one of the most powerful modules in the market with a power rating of 580 W and 535 W.
TaiyangNews: What’s the reason for launching a 500+ W module?
Dany Qian: As recent as last month, a 25-year long-term PPA quoted the world’s lowest tariff in Abu Dhabi, which was at 1.37 cents/kWh. This emphasizes the fact that solar energy is heading towards parity and the global LCOE is falling quickly. As a result, the industry is facing greater price pressure. If a module plant can deliver more efficient products that are capable of accommodating downstream designs, then the cost pressure can be quickly mitigated. Thus, it is apparent that solar utility projects require panels with output power of 500 Wp and beyond. We believe there is a definite need for such high power panels.
TaiyangNews: Can you please provide more details about Tiger Pro?
Dany Qian: The Tiger Pro series is the world’s most powerful commercial solar panel that comes in two power classes—535 Wp and 580 Wp—boasting a module efficiency of 21.6%.
In addition to this outstanding power generation attribute, customers can also benefit from other features of the Tiger Pro series; it is the strongest panel in terms of rated power, module efficiency and power density, It has all the best possible features bundled into one product—lower degradation in both the initial year and average backed by premium performance warranty, better temperatures coefficient as low as -0.35%, optimized Voc to allow more panels of this kind into one string and deliver more safety.
When the installer is able to match it with a good compatible inverter and mounting system, Tiger Pro provides the best value proposition to the customers. We, at JinkoSolar, always keeps this in mind when introducing a new product, which is also true for our previous Tiger and Swan series.
TaiyangNews: Tiger Pro obviously seems to be the next generation module series over the last year launched Tiger? How was the market response to the Tiger series?
Dany Qian: Yes, Tiger Pro is the next generation of Tiger with 475 Wp output power, which was also revolutionary when it was launched. We received an immense positive response from the industry with increasing number of enquiries. We see the same enthusiasm for Tiger Pro as well. Indeed, Tiger Pro features several optimizations over Tiger, especially in the area of tiling ribbon technology, which would be our flagship technology for a year or two to come. The Tiger Pro has also taken the industry by surprise; ‘How we are able to manage to pack several aspects into one pack such as 580 Wp power and 21.6% efficiency’ is often the first response to our Tiger Pro. We believe we did a great job here with Tiger Pro.
TaiyangNews: What are the variants of Tiger Pro that will be available?
Dany Qian: 72-cell and 78-cell products for both monofacial and bifacial varieties.
TaiyangNews: What are the targeted markets / segments for Tiger Pro?
Dany Qian: We target the utility market with the Tiger Pro.
TaiyangNews: When are you planning to enter high-volume production?
Dany Qian: The current plan is to enter mass production in Q3/2020, and production ramp-up will start in 2021.
TaiyangNews: What are the important technological developments that made Tiger Pro such a powerful module?
Dany Qian: Similar to Tiger, the Tiger Pro is also built by using a combination of half cells, multi-busbars interconnection and our proprietary Tiling Ribbon technology. Multi-busbars along with tiling ribbon maximize the utilization of the module area facilitated by seamless soldering with round ribbons. While not going into further details, we can say the difference with Pro is that all these approaches are optimized.
TaiyangNews: Some of your peers are pursuing 1/3 cells for very large modules. You don’t do that for the Tiger Pro, why?
Dany Qian: As the current half cell is compatible with most inverters, there is no need to go to 1/3 cell. Moreover, cutting times increases for the 1/3 cell, which also increases the production cost and the damage risk of cells.
TaiyangNews: Coming to the wafer size, the Tiger Pro is based on the M8 format (18X mm). What is the reason for selecting this particular wafer size – and not M6 or M12?
Dany Qian: We want to design one product that, on the one hand, gives customers the decreased BOS cost and LCOE and, on the other, also has good compatibility with the system as well as feasibility in installation and logistics. We found that power, efficiency and module size are more important for the customer than the wafer size. In fact, the end customer does not care about the wafer size at all. We just select the most competitive product, which is composed of many key technologies, not only the wafer size. The Tiger Pro is a result of our extensive evaluation and analysis.
TaiyangNews: Tiger Pro is offered in two configurations— 72-cell and 78-cell—, which also brings changes in module sizes. What are the advantages, because there is a possibility that these new sizes might bring additional BOS costs, for instance, that might require special mounting systems?
Dany Qian: We don’t believe one size fits all. Customers have different requirements. In this context, our customers like us because we provide a wide range of choices suitable for different installation conditions, performance requirements, mounting options (tracker compatible or fixed mounting) reflecting real-world conditions. As far as the Tiger Pro is concerned, the 72-cell 535 Wp is highly compatible and a universal version that can cater to and can be customized for different types of installations, while the 78-cell configuration with 580 Wp perfectly matches fixed mounting to achieve the best possible LCOE. So, 78-cell as the high-end model is ideal for regions where fixed mounting is preferable.
TaiyangNews: Today’s market is flooded with different module sizes, configurations and also with different wafer sizes. Don’t you think standardization is required? And, how should the standardization look like?
Dany Qian: Sometimes we ask ourselves whether mentioning 158 mm as cell size for our Cheetah is misleading. That’s because it may give the wrong impression that the improvement with Cheetah is just because of the increase in cell size, which is not true. We actually try to strike the right balance between size and technology. Coming to the question, power density and module efficiency and power generation capacity are the key metrics of the module, but not size. However, it takes some time for the market to realize the importance of real-world solutions and soon they will become mainstream and standard.
TaiyangNews: Can you summarize the final benefits of Tiger Pro?
Dany Qian: Tiger Pro has benefits at several levels. It reduces the number of strings for the same rated capacity; thus, the land and corresponding BOS costs are also reduced. If you want the absolute number, I can quote from one of recent case study that estimates that JinkoSolar’s Tiger Pro with 530 W/535 W rated power has a lowest LCOE of 0.2989 CNY/kWh, compared to the competitor’s modules with rated powers of 500 W and 450 W with 0.3028 and 0.3058 CNY/kWh, respectively.
TaiyangNews: Thank you for the interview.