- Products count in Top Solar Modules March list remains at 22
- LG’s high-efficiency module has been delisted, while a G12 PERC module from China’s Seraphim has been added
- Maxeon strengthens efficiency leadership, improving top commercial module efficiency to 22.8%
- SPIC increased efficiency of its ANDROMEDA 2.0 series by 0.1% absolute to 22.1% but with different module
This is our 4th post that refers to commercially available module products from most of the global leading module suppliers. The data for the survey was collected end of March 2022.
Efficiency and output power are the 2 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 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 recently started this monthly column on commercial TOP SOLAR MODULES.
Before going into the details, here is some 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 minimum efficiency to be included 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 2 different product streams based on PERC technology that have more than 21.5% efficiency, then only the product with the higher efficiency is 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. Finally, we are only listing modules based on in-house produced cells of a respective manufacturer, which means modules using externally sourced cells are not featured in this TOP MODULES list. If module specs listed on websites seem to have ‘conspicuously’ high efficiencies, we ask for certificates from third-party test institutes among other information before we include a product in the list.
Meeting these criteria, according to our research (status end of March 2022), a total of 22 products from 21 companies have made it to the current list. The top efficiency rank is still earned by the back-contact module from Maxeon, but with a slightly higher efficiency of 22.8%. The top model of the Singapore-headquartered SunPower spin-off is now its Maxeon 6 series, which, unlike its previously listed Maxeon 3 series built on 5-inch, is based on larger wafer size. While the company has not specified the size, the core remains the same – SunPower/Maxeon’s proprietary IBC technology.
Jolywood again takes the second place; its 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. This month’s 3rd rank goes to JinkoSolar, one up compared to last month, however, not because of any product changes but due to the fact LG got delisted. JinkoSolar’s product is a 22.26% efficient, 575 W and 144 half-cell TOPCon module. The HJT modules from REC and Huasun with respective efficiencies of 22.2% and 22.1%, take the 4th and 5th position. Huasun has to share its 5th rank now with another Chinese company – SPIC, which offers a 22.1% efficient IBC module based on Germany solar research institute ISC Konstanz’s Zebra technology. The remaining 16 products listed are below 22%.
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% the cell technology is key. As shown in the graph, PERC in general is no longer be able to support efficiencies above 21.6% today. Most of the modules with efficiencies above 21.6% are employing cells based on high-efficiency cell architectures such as IBC, TOPCon or HJT. However, in the current listing, only Meyer Burger and Jinergy (apart from above mentioned Huasun and REC) are promoting HJT module with respective efficiencies of 21.8% and 21.6%. Then, the Hi-MO 5m series from LONGi is somewhat exception with its rated high efficiency of 21.7% for a PERC module. Of the remaining 13 listed products, all of which are most likely PERC, 6 reach 21.6%, 4 come with 21.5%, and 3 are rated in-between, including the first-time featured product from Seraphim with 21.57%.
Changes in this edition
When compared to our previous listing released in March summarizing the research of February 2022, the current listing features one additional product, though the count of companies and modules remains unaltered at 21 and 22, respectively. That’s because the Korean business conglomerate LG has decided to Exit Solar Module Business. While the company announcement was published before our previous edition was out, the modules were said to be still available commercially for a while and company had said it had plans to continue production till Q2/2022. As the website now makes clear with a note that it is closing the solar panel business, we have taken them out. This gap is filled by Seraphim from China. The S5 Bifacial module series is built on PERC cell technology using G12 wafer size and 132 half-cell configuration, leading to 21.57% efficiency and 670 W rated power (see Top Solar Modules Listing February – 2022).
Maxeon, on the other hand, is listed with a different product from its SPR-MAX6-449-E3-AC. As mentioned above, it based on an unspecified larger wafer format, but what is known from the spec sheet is that the module is built with 66 cell that results in 440 W rated power. Besides higher efficiency, this product has another special feature – it is an AC module that comes with a factory integrated micro-inverter. Though the annual degradation of 0.25% not new, Maxeon is promoting a 40 years of power warranty for this product range (see IBC Solar Panels With Impressive 40-Year Warranty).
SPIC is another module maker that has improved its product compared to the previous listing. While the module series is still the same, the smaller module configuration is built with 132 M6 format IBC cells, instead of 144 cells, which results in 22.1% efficiency, a 0.1% absolute more than the series listed earlier. With lower cell count, the rated power comes down to 435 W.
Stay tuned for the next update in April 2022.
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.
Disclaimer: While TaiyangNews is carefully conducting its research for the module data shown in this article and graphs, we assume no liability for its accuracy, completeness, or timeliness.