- TaiyangNews hosted our 1st Distributed Solar and Storage Virtual Conference on April 25, 2023
- Participants see this as a fast growing segment thanks to demand created by the Russian aggression in Ukraine, and high electricity costs
- Manufacturers are moving forward with technological advancements in product offerings to cater to this market with focus being on higher efficiency and lower cost
The global solar PV market has traditionally been more focused on the utility scale segment, and only a handful of countries including Australia, Brazil and Germany among others have actually seen a sustained growth in decentralized installations. But the Russian invasion in Ukraine and high electricity costs along with growing awareness to bring down carbon emissions have put distributed solar and storage high on the agenda for all market segments comprising residential, commercial & industrial (C&I) and other consumers.
Manufacturers across the supply chain in the global solar manufacturing have been quick to take cognizance of this trend, bringing out modules and products to suit various buildings, climates and needs.
To know what latest product trends are available today to enable residential and commercial buildings become energy independent, TaiyangNews brought on board industry players and experts for our 1st Virtual Conference on Distributed Solar & Storage on April 25, 2023. Here’s what we learnt during our 1st event on distributed solar.
Invited by TaiyangNews Managing Director Michael Schmela to give an opening speech, Senior Consultant, EuPD Research Saif Islam talked about distributed solar in Europe’s largest market Germany.
This European market has been growing its distributed solar segment thanks to supportive funding arrangements put in place by its policy makers with its feed-in-tariffs (FIT) and tender programs. The country is moving fast in its energy transition ‘leaving the fossil-nuclear energy age behind’ and solar PV is to play a key role in its sustainable energy future.
Referring to EuPD’s in-house studies on German installations, Islam pointed at the growing trend of installers including electric mobility solutions in their portfolio and nearly all of them offering storage as well. Consumers who are soon to outgrow their FIT contracts are also likely to continue operating their systems for self-consumption – and might add battery storage as well.
Despite this growing demand, especially with the country having now fully scrapped its nuclear power out of the system, Islam said there are challenges the market faces in terms of supply chain and installers. However, despite increased payback time for rooftop solar installations due to the labor shortage and inflationary environment, demand for rooftop solar remains strong.
EuPD forecasts 51.4 GW DC of new PV capacity for European Union in 2023, with an annual increase of 34%. Both Germany and Spain are likely to reach 10 GW DC this year. In Germany, a major part of this capacity is likely to come from the industrial and utility scale segment. EuPD foresees German installations to increase to 22.3 GW in 2026 (see slide above).
Seeing growing demand for distributed solar in the residential segment, especially in Europe, the world’s leading solar PV manufacturer LONGi has come out with a variety of module products for residential installations. LONGi’s Product Marketing Manager Alina Liu talked about the company’s high efficiency Hi-MO 6 HPBC modules for DG applications in Europe.
It sees an opportunity to supply aesthetically designed products, especially to Europe, all based on its HPBC cell technology that carry fancy names as Hi-MO 6 Explorer, Scientist, Guardian and Artist. The last one in the list is a colored module from the Chinese company, while the best Scientist models were said to exceed the 23% module efficiency level.
Liu stressed that new levels of module efficiency as exhibited by its Hi-MO 6 panel leads to better performance in terms of higher yield, even higher than PERC and TOPCon, and for which it is seeing growing demand in Europe.
Another leading Chinese PV producer, JinkoSolar’s Senior ESS Product Manager Amy Liu shared insights into combining TOPCon with storage for residential applications around the world in her presentation.
Introducing the company’s residential energy storage system Suntank, Liu said since technology developments impact energy storage design, the company thought it wise to foray into its own storage system. When combined with its TOPCon module Tiger Neo, Liu said Suntank has high compatibility.
Built aesthetically with lithium iron phosphate battery+packs with built-in cell-level anti-fire and heat dissipation material, Suntank is a stackable solution ensuring higher safety according to the manufacturer. It uses a maximum of 6 modules from 7.1 kWh to 21.3 kWh.
The system can be expanded through a 3-stage control box, up to 85 kWh which it claims makes the storage system compatible with industrial and commercial needs. Jinko provides 10-year warranty for both pack and inverter.
Liu stressed that the company has stared offering intelligent management solutions and after sales service in Europe and Australia to its users to make it easier for people to adopt it.
With this, the Chinese manufacturer is becoming a full system solution supplier for residential markets offering modules, inverters, batteries and local service networks.
World leading multinational white goods producer for home appliances Haier is now operating in the field of distributed solar. To know about what prompted the company to enter the field, TaiyangNews invited Vice GM Haier Nanhui, Marx Aimin XIA.
Haier’s new energy platform comprises Nanhui Green Energy that’s into solar PV systems, Nanhui Storage which operates in the BESS domain, and Nanhui Tech into PCS.
According to Xia, taking advantage of its global presence the company is venturing and expanding into the solar PV industry, providing a total solution with new TOPCon and heterojunction (HJT) solar modules and battery products for both residential and C&I segments.
Europe sitting high on its list, it has launched in Italy in March, and plans to enter Germany, followed by the UK later this year with its with TOPCon & HJT solar panels, inverters, energy storage offerings.
Head of Product Management & Solutions Sales at Aiko Solar, Dr Shawn Li discussed how world record module efficiencies change profitability for rooftop solar. A premium cell maker, the company expanded itself to module technology and is currently sitting on top of TaiyangNews Top Solar Modules Listing for the world’s most efficient solar module, the All Back Contact (ABC) panel with 23.6% efficiency (see Top Solar Modules Listing—April 2023).
Li said the company targets to achieve 24% efficiency for the ABC modules by the end of this year. The higher the efficiency, the lower the BOS cost for a system.
In his presentation, Li delved into the benefits of its ABC modules in terms of improved output and significantly reduced electricity costs for homes vis-à-vis PERC modules in the market over the working life of 30 years, especially when paired with battery. He also stressed that combining PV modules with heat pumps also has its benefits.
Talking about the power of microinverters enabling new applications like balcony/plug-in solar or solar fences, the CEO of Solarnative Dr Julian Mattheis from Germany said its product can turn every single solar module into an AC panel, giving it a plug-and-play feature, thus making installations easier.
The Solarnative microinverters work as an individual inverter in the form of a power stick, controlling each panel independently. They can be fit into the module frame. This feature helps bring down the cost of an installation. Mattheis also said this can solve the problems installers face which he sees as a major bottleneck for Germany to grow its solar capacity.
The start-up is seeing a major interest developing in balcony PV of late, especially since the Russian aggression in Ukraine, and claims its products is compatible for all such installations along with rooftop, BIPV, solar fencing, PV pavement systems as well.
Mattheis highlights that its microinverters, with their proprietary reverse bias control, are an enabler for high efficiency perovskite tandem technology as these control the cell voltage and prevent over-heating.
It is currently ramping up its first factory with production capacity of 1 GW. In July 2023, it will be launching a balcony PV system. However, going forward, its plan is to provide microinverters to module manufacturers to integrate within the module at the production stage.
Risen Energy is a top 10 cell/module manufacturer that has been strongly promoting large-size 210 cells early one, and is now moving into HJT technology. What’s not so much know is Risen’s move into battery storage – it now operates 2 subsidiaries, 1 for the residential market, another for the the C&I segment. Risen SYL C&I Sales Manager Stacy Si delved into exploring PV with C&I energy storage applications with its SYL All-in-One standardized C&I solution made out of Li-ion cells, PCS, BMS, thermal management systems.
This energy storage solution, explained Si, supports the needs of medium and large C&I, community and island applications of MW level, both in grid-connected, off-grid and weak grid scenarios.
As these enable uninterrupted power supply and emergency power back up for commercial and industrial activity to continue unabated, companies are seeking such solutions to bring down their dependence on uncertain and expensive grid supplied electricity. Its benefits also extend to reduced electricity costs and electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.
Pointing at the growing trend in China to add energy storage for C&I solar installations, Si said peak-valley tariff difference is the main driver here, but in overseas markets industrial electricity price differences is a contributing factor. International markets are also seeing a strong demand for microgrids.
A major proponent of n-type TOPCon technology, Astronergy’s Product Manager Xuanyi Shi pointed towards the advantage of the company’s TOPCon products in distributed PV applications especially Astro N. With an efficiency level reaching as high as 25.4%, the company’s Astro N5s series caters to C&I as well as residential PV.
While markets of Europe, Australia, and the US demand TOPCon technology as these promise higher efficiency, there are regions across the globe that still want PERC as these are low on module cost.
In the near future, Astronergy is going to put its new modules Astro N7 with up to 615W and Astro N7s with up to 450W output, based on 182mm wafer sized cell, in volume production by Q3/2023.
By 2025-end, Astronergy to increase its n-type cell production capacity to 34 GW in 2023, and to 76 GW by 2025, shared Shi who confirmed the company’s plans to release 28 GW module capacity in 2023 and 70% of it will be n-type, according to the company’s roadmap.
Going forward, TaiyangNews is looking forward to host our Intersolar Munich 2023 Virtual Conference on June 27, 2023. Registrations are open and free, here.