Efficiency and output power are the two key characteristics of a solar module. While there are several means to improve module power such as employing larger cell sizes or integrating more cells into a module, it’s the efficiency that truly speaks about the ability of the solar device to convert sunlight per area into power. That’s why this list includes only the highest efficient solar modules.
TaiyangNews has been covering the efficiency progress of solar modules through its annual reports on Advanced Module Technologies starting from 2017 and its annual conference as of 2020. However, in a the quickly changing solar sector a lot is happening over the course of year – and to keep our readers updated about the efficiency progress more frequently, TaiyangNews has started this new monthly column on commercial TOP MODULES. This first post refers to commercially available module products from most of the leading module suppliers collected in December 2021.
Before going into the details, a bit of background on the methodology and selection criteria. Since module efficiencies have been improving considerably, more than 0.5% average per year, to make the list rewarding for technically advanced products we put the benchmark efficiency at 21.5%. We have listed only commercially available top modules from each cell technology stream of one module maker. For example, if a company is offering two different product streams based on PERC technology that have more than 21.5% efficiency, then the product with the higher efficiency is only considered for this list. But if a module maker is offering, for example, products based on PERC and TOPCon that have efficiencies of 21.5% or above, then both the products are listed here. A commercially available module is considered a product for which the complete data sheet is listed on the module producer’s website. This also means we have not included any new product announcements as their modules specs often differ considerably from the products that are finally available for purchase, and some products presented at trade fairs are not even seeing the commercial light at all.
Meeting these criteria, according to our research (status December: 2021), a total of 15 products from 15 companies have made it to our first list.
The top efficiency rank is earned by a 22.7% efficienct back-contact module from Maxeon. The Maxeon 3 series modules feature SunPower’s proprietary IBC technology implemented on 5-inch n-type wafers. The module is built with 115 of such Maxeon Gen 3 solar cells using back-contact module technology. Jolywood takes the second place; it’s TOPCon technology implements G12 wafer size in a 132 half-cell configuration and attains an efficiency of 22.53%. With 700 W, it is also the most powerful product on the list. The third ranked product is a 22.3% efficient, 405 W and 60-cell back contact module from LG, just a little ahead of JinkoSolar’s 22.26% TOPCon based Tiger Neon N-type module. All the other modules are below the 22% level.
There are several module series with efficiencies around 21% available today as high efficiency cell architectures are not a must to reach that level; but in order to design products beyond 21.5%, cell technology is the ultimate key. As shown in the graph, PERC in general is no longer be able to support efficiencies above 21.6% today. The top-efficiency-rated modules with efficiencies above 21.6% are employing cells based on high efficiency cell architectures such as IBC, TOPCon or HJT. JinkoSolar and Magasol are two other TOPCon module suppliers (apart from the above mentioned), LG is yet another IBC technology follower, while REC and Meyer Burger have designed their high efficiency modules based on HJT. Of the 8 PERC modules listed, the efficiency range is between 21.5% and 21.6%, which can be considered the upper limit for the technology today.
Stay tuned for the next monthly update in February 2021.
PS: If you have spotted somewhere a solar module that meets our criteria and might be missing in this list, please send us the link of the website with the product specs to: firstname.lastname@example.org.