- A second solar module breaches 23% efficiency mark – a back contact panel from LONGi
- Ranked second, LONGi’s Hi-MO 6 is listed with 600 W module and an efficiency of 23.2%
- Another module from Astronergy’s Astro N5 series has entered – the TOPCon cell based product reaches 22.5% efficiency and power of 580 W.
After the 23% module efficiency threshold was broken by Aiko in the March edition of our commercially available TOP Solar Modules ranking, another company has managed to reach that level – LONGi Solar. During the TaiyangNews Distributed Solar & Storage Conference end of April, LONGi said that its Hi-MO 6 module has reached 23.2% efficiency (watch presentation here). This makes LONGi the only No. 2, leaving behind Maxeon, which was sharing that rank with LONGi so far.
The only other notable change was a 0.1% point efficiency increase from Astronergy – its Astro N5 series TOPCon module now reaches 22.5%.
While the number of products listed remains the same at 37, the changes at the top have also impacted the other rankings. Please note that the data for the top module listings was collected in the first week of May 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, it 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 May 2023), a total of 37 products from 24 companies have made it to the current list – the same number as the previous month. Though the product count did not change, LONGi’s highest efficiency module and Astronergy’s new module are listed with updated specs.
Aiko’s ABC module series introduced in March still stays at the top with an efficiency of 23.6%, 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 new and only No. 2 from LONGi has a 0.4% points higher efficiency of 23.2% than previously. LONGi’s product is based on a proprietary HPBC cell technology, which is essentially a back contact cell architecture. Apart from being top class in efficiency, the new Hi-MO6 module series is powerful too. It reaches up to 600 W in the highest power class. The 144 (6×24) half-cell panel is a single glass (3.2 mm) product with an anodized aluminum alloy frame, measuring 2,278 x 1,134 x 35 mm and a weight of 27.5 kg. The up to 23.2% efficient module comes with a 25-year power warranty with <1.5% power degradation in the first year and an average of 0.40% from years 2 to 25.
In consequence, Maxeon’s 440 W and 22.8% efficient IBC cell based panel moved down to 3rd position. Until last month Maxeon and LONGi wes sharing the same rank, and before LONGi introduced HiMO 6 end of 2022, the IBC modules from SunPower spin-off Maxeon have been the most efficient products in the market for many years.
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’s 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.
In our April edition, 3 companies were sharing the 7th rank with 22.5% efficiency. Now, with the new module product from Astronergy with an increased efficiency of 0.1% reaching that level as well this has changed. The new panel is from the Astro N5 series, like the previous one, and its higher efficiency resulted in a jump from 10th to 7th position, increasing the number of companies sharing the 7th rank to 4. Though also a N5 TOPCon product, it is in fact a different module: CHSM72N-HC has 144 rather than 156 half cells with 182 mm wafer format – and reaches 580 W compared to the earlier product with 625 W.
The top products from JA Solar and TW Solar which joined the list in April 2023 have remained unchanged. The JAM72D40 580/GB, a TOPCon product from JA Solar has 22.5% efficiency for a power output of 580 W. TW Solar’s TOPCon product has exactly the same efficiency and power ratings of 22.5% and 580 W, respectively, thus both are sharing the rank. Both the products are built with 144 half cells using G12 wafer format.
Unlike the other 3 on rank 7, the module of Canadian Solar is based on HJT. To reach an efficiency of 22.5%, it employs 108 G12 wafers in half-cell configuration. Named HiHero, the module is rated at 440 W.
Canadian Solar, Trina Solar, SPIC, DAS Solar and REC remained at 11th place. The most powerful module among these 5 is Canadian Solar’s second ‘best’ product in our list is its bifacial CS6W-575TB-AG TOPCon panel with 575 W and 22.3% efficiency. Its design includes 144 half cells with 182 mm wafer format.
Trina Solar’s Vertex S+ module is based on TOPCon technology, uses 210 mm wafer format and is built with 44 half cells leading to an output power of 445 W.
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 lower power rating of 440 W.
Again, it shares that rank with DAS Solar. 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 of the company is rated with 22.3% efficiency, this 435 W module is made up of 108 cells.. Another module comes from PERC technology product; its DAS-DH144PA has 21.7% with a rated power of 560 W. Both module from DAS solar are based on 182 mm wafer format built with multi busbar design and have bifacial technology.
The fifth company on rank 11 is REC, whose Alpha Pure-R series HJT product has 22.3% efficiency and 430 W module power, the lowest level among the companies sharing this position.
With the above changes Akcome now stands at 16th 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%. There, it shares the rank with JinkoSolar’s Tiger Pro PERC module which has the same efficiency.
Eging PV’s AuroraPro series module is a TOPCon based bifacial module with an efficiency of 22.05%, which means the 17th place in this ranking. The module has a rated power of 685 W.
Qcells, promotes 2 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 18th rank in our list. A PERC module from Qcells is also included in our list. The product line, called Q PEAK series, however, remains unchanged since our March 2022 listing with a rated efficiency of 21.5%.
The remaining 19 products listed are below 22%, of which 2 are based on HJT, and the bulk of 17 are PERC modules.
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 21.5% 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 in general was not been able to support efficiencies above 21.6% until end of last year. At the time, modules with efficiencies above 21.6% were generally 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; TW Solar joined in February; and last month DAS Solar entered to the list of 21.7 efficient PERC modules. – and all of them are ranked #20. Following the order of rated power, the third module of Canadian Solar in this list, its HiKu7 is based on 132 half-cell configuration with 210 mm wafer size and a rated power of 675 W. Risen Energy has moved up in order of listing with increase in power from 450 W to 675 W. Risen’s TITAN module is built with 132 half cells using 210 mm wafer format, compared to the earlier model was based on 130 of 1/3rd cell strips. That’s why though the difference in cell number is just 2, the power rating has increase by 225 W with the currently listed product. LONGi’s HiMO5m module is built with 144 cells of 182 mm cell size and 560 W power. TW Solar, which was listing a 21.5% efficiency products until February, has come up with a 21.7% product that reaches a power output of 430 W. Like its predecessor, this product is also based on shingled interconnection technology, striping cells into 5 and a total of 61 cells are used to build this shingled module.
If rounded, the next 3 sharing rank 25 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 10 products are all based on PERC, of which 5 reach 21.6% efficiency. Interestingly, 4 products of this group – Astronergy, Suntech, Talesun and Trina Solar have the same power rating of 670 W 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 5 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 PVand Qcells of which all but Seraphim and Yingli have another high-efficiency product listed as well.
For our May 2023 edition, TaiyangNews top modules listing has seen few changes in terms of the rankings of the leading companies. Aiko’s ABC module series is still at the top of the list with an efficiency of 23.6%, while LONGi’s module have moved up to the second position with an efficiency of 23.2%. As a result Maxeon’s 440 W and 22.8% efficient IBC modules is now on the third position. Jinko Solar holds 4th position, Huasun’S HJT and Jolywood’s TOPCon product share 5th place while another Astronergy Astro N5 TOPCon product now comes with increased efficiency of 22.5% so that its position moved up from 10th to 7th, which it shares with 3 other companies – JA Solar, TW Solar and Canadian Solar. We did not notice any changes from 11th position, which remained unchanged when compared to last month (see Top solar Modules Listing – April 2023).
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.