- Aiko Solar makes history offering a first commercial PV module series exceeding 23% conversion efficiency; reaching up to 23.6%, it claims the No 1 spot
- TW Solar and Canadian Solar introduce TOPCon modules
- The March Top Modules product count increased from 34 to 37, with 3 new module entries and 2 updates
This news should cause quite some commotions in the solar sector. After literally no product changes were reported in the previous edition of our monthly Top Modules Listing, Aiko Solar has just announced the commercialization of a back contact module under the brand name ABC with an amazingly high efficiency of up to 23.6%. This is a significant leap forward compared to the previous top rank of 22.8% shared by LONGi and Maxeon, who now both take the 2nd position (see Record Efficiency Solar Module From Aiko).
Aiko’s new ABC module series boasts an absolute efficiency gap of 0.8% to its closest followers, which is even more amazing when taking into consideration that Aiko is primarily a cell manufacturer, though one of the world’s largest. Its record module efficiency is supported by certification from TÜV Süd. In addition to meeting the certification requirements, Aiko has provided product data sheets as well as shipment and project data for its modules, ensuring its first place on the Top Modules list of commercially available products.
Our March list features few more changes. Tongwei or TW Solar, another world leading cell manufacturer, which was only listed as a PERC module supplier till last month, now also features among the leading TOPCon module suppliers. TW Solar’s TOPCon module is rated with 22.4% efficiency. Canadian Solar’s TOPCon module is another new entry to list with 22.3% efficiency. Apart from these 3 new entries, there are 2 product efficiency updates. It’s TW Solar again and Astronergy, but this time in the PERC category. The data for the top modules listing was collected in the first week of March 2023.
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. Our latest Solar Module Innovations Report was published in Aug. 2022 (download report here) and our most recent annual conference on Solar Module Innovations took place on Jan. 31, 2023 (access the presentations here). However, in the quickly changing solar sector a lot is happening over the course of a year – and to keep our readers updated about the efficiency progress more frequently, TaiyangNews has started this monthly column on commercial TOP SOLAR MODULES at the beginning of 2022.
Before going into details, here is some background on the methodology and selection criteria: Since module efficiencies have been improving considerably in recent years, 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. Efficiency is the only criteria for ranking in the list (whenever available in the specs, we have used two digits after the comma for efficiencies, otherwise one). However, as we see more often products with the same efficiency, in this case power determine the order. And when efficiency and even power are the same, we have listed the manufacturers in alphabetical order.
A commercially available module is considered a product for which the complete data sheet is listed on the module producer’s website. The efficiency and power data listed here is taken from the data sheet available on the respective company’s website. This also means we have not included any new product announcements without final technical data published 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 module 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. A case in point, Aiko not only provided the test certificate, also revealed the shipment data and details of projects where the module have already been used in solar installations.
Results & Changes
Meeting these criteria, according to our research (status first week of March 2023), a total of 37 products from 24 companies have made it to the current list. Compared to the previous edition there are only few but very significant changes. First, the rankings of all listed products has changed. That’s because we now have a new No. 1. Aiko’s ABC module series now sits at the top with an efficiency of 23.6%, and the module is rated with up to 610 W power coming from 144 of M10 half cells. Aiko has not specified the exact cell architecture, but it’s based on n-type wafers and characterized as ABC that is also the designation of the module series that stands for All Back Contact.
The IBC modules from SunPower spin-off Maxeon have been the most efficient products in the market for many years. This has changed in November 2022 with the world’s largest wafer and module maker LONGi Solar having introduced a new module series called Hi-MO6 with 22.8% efficiency that is at the same level as Maxeon’s products. LONGi’s product is based on a proprietary HPBC cell technology, which is essentially a back contact cell architecture. While LONGi has not officially confirmed the wafer type, whether it is p-type or n-type, it is most likely to be p-type, whereas the other leading Chinese vertically integrated module manufacturers have opted to n-type for their next generation products after p-type PERC, no matter if TOPCon or HJT. Apart from being top class in efficiency, the new Hi-MO6 module series is powerful too. The module is built with 144 half cells based on M10 wafer format resulting in a rated power of 590 W, which is why it is listed above Maxeon’s product Maxeon 6 with 440 W labelled power. LONGi has also improved the power rating of its PERC Hi-MO 5m module series by 5 W to 560 W in January edition. however, nothing else has changed for the product. It is still M10 wafer based, integrated with 144 half cells and based on multi-busbar configuration. Now these two companies both hold the 2nd position.
As a result, Jinko Solar holds the 4th position with its Tiger Neo TOPCon module JKMN-72HL4-V that is offered with a power rating of 585 W and an efficiency of 22.65%. Huasun and Jolywood share the 5th rank. Both products have the same efficiency of 22.53% but for different rated module power. Huasun’ HJT module with 700 W, the most powerful on the list, is based on G12 wafer size in a 132 half-cell configuration, while Jolywood’s product is based on TOPCon technology; it uses M10 wafer format in 108 cell configuration. This Niwa Light product has a rated power of 440 W.
Canadian Solar holds the 7th position. The HJT module of Canadian Solar has an efficiency of 22.5%, employing G12 wafer format and is based on 108 half-cell configuration. Named HiHero, the module is rated at 440 W. Canadian Solar’s HiKu7 product in PERC category was a new entry to our Dec. 2022 version; this product came with 0.1% higher efficiency absolute than its former BiHiKu7 series. HiKu7 is based on G12 wafer format and is built with 132 half cells and interconnected with MBB layout, and has a rated power of 675 W.
Astronergy’s has introduced a new module in its Astro N5 series that has 0.3 % higher efficiency absolute than the previously listed one. The latest product, now holding 8th rank, is built with 156 M10 half cells having a module power of 625 W and efficiency reaching to 22.4%, while the previous one was built with 144 cells, which is the only difference.
JA Solar’s DeepBlue 4.0 shares ranks with Astronergy at 8th place. This is JA’s second module on the list but an n-type bifacial module that has an efficiency of 22.4% for a rated power of 625 W. It is built with 182 mm wafer format and 156 cell configuration.
TW Solar is a new entry to the list in the TOPCon cell segment. Until last month, it was represented only in the PERC category. TW Solar’s TH405-430TMBG 54ZDDF is a TOPCon based module with a rated power of 430 W and 22.4% efficiency, which means the 8th rank as well. It is a very special module in a sense that even the half cells are interconnected using shingling technique, a very rare combination. Typically, shingling involves stripping the cells into several strips. The module is built with 108 half cells, however, the company has not specified the cell size. This latest module of TW Solar is also a bifacial product.
Three products follow on the 11th rank.The most powerful module of them is Canadian Solar’s bifacial CS6W-575TB-AG TopCon product with 575 W and 22.3% efficiency. It’s design includes 144 half cells with 182 mm wafer format. SPIC’s IBC module, based on German solar research institute ISC Konstanz’s Zebra technology, stands on 11th place as well with the same 22.3% efficiency but a power rating of 440 W. Again, it shares that rank with REC, whose Alpha Pure-R series HJT product has 22.3% efficiency and 430 W module power.
With the above changes Akcome now stands at 14th position. The company’s Ak ipower HJT module has an efficiency of 22.22%. This HJT module is built with 132 half cells based on 210 mm wafer size and reaches a rated power of 690 W. Akcome also provides a 560 W bifacial PERC module, built with 144 half cells sliced from M10 cells, and having an efficiency of 21.68%. Here it shares the rank with JinkoSolar’s Tiger Pro PERC module which has the same efficiency.
DAS Solar is a Chinese cell and module manufacturer from which we have listed 2 modules – one comes with TOPCon and another is based on PERC cell technology. The TOPCon module has an efficiency of 22.1% and 570 W power output. Based on bifacial technology, it is made of 144 cells of 182 mm. Eging PV’s AuroraPro series module is a TOPCon based bifacial module with an efficiency of 22.05%, which means the 16th place in our ranking. The module has a rated power of 685 W.
Qcells, promotes two modules, one employing TopCon technology and another PERC. The TOPCon module of the company has 22% efficiency. This Q.TRON-BLKG1+ module is based on 120 half-cell configuration. The data specs do not reveal the cell size, but indicate that the module is built with 120 half cells that lead to a power output of 395 W. The 22% efficiency has earned the product the 17th rank in our list. A PERC module from Qcells is also included in our list. The product line, called Q PEAK series, however, remained unchanged since our March 2022 listing with a rated efficiency of 21.5%.
The remaining 20 products listed are below 22%, of which one employs TOPCon cells, while 2 are based on HJT, and the bulk of 17 are PERC modules.
Trina Solar’s Vertex S+ is based on TOPCon technology and reaches the 18th position. This multi-busbar half-cell n-type module has an output power of 425 W and an efficiency of 21.9%. As previously, Meyer Burger is offering its HJT product with the same efficiency of 21.8% and power rating of 390 W. Jinergy is another HJT technology company, whose product is based on M6 cell format and reaches 21.68% module efficiency.
There are several module series with efficiencies slightly exceeding 21% available today as high efficiency cell architectures are not a must to reach that level, but in order to design products today beyond 21.6% the cell technology is key. As shown in the graphs, PERC has been in general not been 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. But as of recently, we have observed an increase in the number of companies reaching PERC module efficiency to 21.7%. Until November LONGi and Risen were in this group; then, in January, Canadian Solar joined; and TW Solar is the most recent so far – and all of them are ranked #20th. Following the order of rated power, Canadian Solar’s HiKu7 is based on 132 half-cell configuration with 210 mm wafer size and a rated power of 675 W. LONGi’s HiMo5m module is built with 144 cells of 182 mm cell size and 560 W power. Risen Energy’s module is based on 210 mm wafer format and comes with a power rating of 450 W. TW Solar, which was listing a 21.5% efficiency products until last month, has now come up with a 21.7% product that reaches a power output of 430 W. Like its predecessor, this product is also based shingled interconnection technology. However, TW Solar adapted a new strategy of striping cells into 5 instead of 6, and a total of 61 cells are used to build this shingled module.
If rounded, the next 3 sharing rank 24th would also reach 21.7%, but the companies – Akcome, Jinko and Jinergy – have given 2 digits in their spec sheets. JinkoSolar’s Tiger Pro is a module with 21.68% efficiency based on 144 cell configuration resulting in a rated output of 560 W. Akcome has a bifacial product with the same number of cells, cell format and output of Jinko. Jinergy’s HJT module, however is built with 120 half cells of M6 format that reaches a power of 395 W.
The remaining 11 products are based on PERC, of which 5 reach 21.6% efficiency. However, Astronergy’s came out with its new Astro 6 Semi series with a higher efficiency of 21.6%. This module, which replaces the previous 21.5% efficient Astor 5 Semi in our listing, has a power rating of 670 W. Interestingly 3 more products of this group – from Suntech, Talesun and Trina Solar also have the same power rating owing to the same cell count of 132 cells of G12 size. JA Solar’s DeepBlue 3.0 built with M10 sized 156 half cells has a different power rating of 605 W. The other 6 PERC modules ranging from 21.57% down to 21.5% all still meet our criteria of at least 21.5% efficiency and include products from Jinergy, Seraphim, Yingli, Eging PV, Qcells and DAS Solar, of which all but Seraphim and Yingli have another high-efficiency product listed as well.
For the first time, a commercial module has exceeded the 23% level, and not just by a little but a large margin. World leading cell manufacturer from China, Aiko Solar has made a big mark by announcing the commercialization of its 23.6% back contact module from the ABC series. It surpasses the previous top ranks held jointly by LONGi and Maxeon at 22.8%. With a new No. 1, the rankings for all products in this list have changed. While Astrongery introduced a new module product with TOPCon cells, with 22.4% efficiency, improving its position from 11th to 8th place with 22.4% efficiency, it has also upped its position among PERC products by increasing the efficiency from 21.5% to 21.6%. Another world leading cell supplier with large ambition in the module segment, TW Solar, better knows as Tongwei, which was providing only PERC modules until last month, has now also a TOPCon product rated with 22.4% efficiency in our list. As TW Solar has also improved its PERC product, now reaching up to 21.7% efficiency, Canadian Solar has entered the TOPCon module train as well being now the only company in our listing with three different products based on three cell technologies – PERC, HJT and TOPCon
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.