- Products count of Top Solar Modules in May increased from 22 to 25 after several companies announced new high efficiency modules at Intersolar Europe
- Canadian Solar introduced a 22.5% efficient HJT product, while REC improved by 0.1% points the efficiency of its HJT module, a lead-free product that won the Intersolar Award 2022
- Astronergy and Qcells started offering brand-new TOPCon modules with 22.1% and 22.3% efficiency, respectively
After half year, our monthly ranking of commercially available solar panel products from most of the global leading module suppliers has increased to 25. The data for the survey was collected end of May 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 started this monthly column on commercial TOP SOLAR MODULES at the beginning of this year.
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 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.
Meeting these criteria, according to our research (status end of May 2022), a total of 25 products from 22 companies have made it to the current list, 3 more products and one company is added to the list, meaning 3 companies are offering more than 2 product streams that have efficiency above 21.5%. The top efficiency rank is still earned by a 22.8% efficient back-contact module from Maxeon. The top model of the Singapore-headquartered SunPower spin-off is now its Maxeon 6 series that 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. However, the 3rd rank is taken by a new entry, Canadian Solar Inc. (CSI). The new HJT module series called HiHero is rated with 25.5% efficiency and 440 W power. REC has remained at 4th position despite improving its efficiency by 0.1% with its new Alpha Pure-R series that is rated with 22.3%. It shares the 4th rank with Qcells whose latest Q.TRON module series based on n-type technology comes with the same efficiency of 22.3%. While the company has not explicitly mentioned the cell technology on its technical spec, it very likely seems to be based on TOPCon technology. Qcells’ module features zero gap technology. JinkoSolar dropped from 3 ranks to the 6th position; however, at 22.26% efficiency its TOPCon 144 half-cell module with 575 W power missed the 4th rank only by a slight margin. Huasun’s top product is its HJT module that only entered our list last month but already has gained 0.1% absolute efficiency as the result of adapting the HJT technology on G12 wafer format. The Himalaya series of the company is has the same efficiency rating of 22.2% and 580 W power. Nothing also changed with IBC module from SPIC apart from change in the rank. Now listed at 8th, this IBC module of the company based on Germany solar research institute ISC Konstanz’s Zebra technology still rated with 21.1% efficiency. However, the Chiense company has a local companion sharing the position. The new Astro 5 TOPCon module of Chint Astronergy that has an efficiency of 22.1% is also ranked 8th in the list. Astronergy is employing 144 of M10 half cells to realize output power of 570 W.
The remaining 17 products listed are below 22%, of which only two are HJT based and the rest are PERC followers. Like last month, 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 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. LONGi is somewhat an exception for a PERC module with its high efficiency rating of 21.7%, which earns the company the 11th position, ahead of Jinergy’s HJT product.
Of the remaining 13 listed products, all of which are all based on 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 21.56%. PERC products from Astronergy, Qcells and Jinergy are also listed on top of their high-efficiency modules as these different technology panels of the companies still meet our criteria of at least 21.5% efficiency.
Changes in this edition
As mentioned above, the current listing featuring the summary of our research in May has undergone changes in the number of products as well as their suppliers compared the previous monthly edition. There are 4 new products. Canadian Solar is at the top of the list. The company has been operating a pilot line with HJT technology and just started offering module based on the technology. While CSI has not specified the wafer size, from the dimensions it appears to be a M10 based HJT module. REC is next in the list with its Alpha Pure-R series. This new module series of the Reliance subsidiary has an efficiency of 22.3%. As in the past, the module is based on HJT technology. Apart from efficiency the product is completely lead free, a feature for which it won the Intersolar 2022 Award. The module is built with 40 (80 half cut) cells of G12 size. The module has a 430 W power rating.
Our new modules list also contains 2 new TOPCon products. Astronergy has commercially launched its n-type portfolio containing several modules and the top of the range is its Astro N5 that is based on 144 half cells sliced from M10 cell format. It is a typical half-cell MBB module with a power rating 570 W and 22.1% efficiency. Qcells first n-type TOPCon module also features a zero gap technology. The product has a 22.3% efficiency and 400 W power.
Stay tuned for the next update in July 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 email@example.com.
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.