Top Solar Modules Listing – September 2023

Monthly TaiyangNews Update on Commercially Available High Efficiency Solar Modules
 Cell efficiency matters: For our monthly top module listing we have chosen a benchmark efficiency of 21.5%. The list of 51 commercial products shows that today PERC is not able to support module efficiencies beyond 21.7% – and high efficiency cell architectures are required beyond that level. (Source: TaiyangNews)
Cell efficiency matters: For our monthly top module listing we have chosen a benchmark efficiency of 21.5%. The list of 51 commercial products shows that today PERC is not able to support module efficiencies beyond 21.7% – and high efficiency cell architectures are required beyond that level. (Source: TaiyangNews)
  • Huasun improved the efficiency of its commercially available HJT module efficiency by 0.49% points, taking 3rd position
  • SPIC unveiled its latest module Andromeda 3.0, a back contact TOPCon based product, with an efficiency of 22.8%
  • Astronergy upgraded its TOPCon module efficiency; the top of its promotion list is a bifacial module with 22.6% efficiency
  • Jinergy has improved the efficiency of its top HJT module product that now has an efficiency of 21.85%
  • Trina Solar's Vertex S+ is now replaced in our list with a higher power module Vertex N with 700 W, while the efficiency remains the same

The trend to very high efficiency module continues in our TOP SOLAR MODULES list for September. Huasun, previously at 5th position, has made a leap to 3rd place after increasing efficiency by close to 0.5 percentage points to 23.02%. The new 715 W module from its Himalaya G12 series, which uses HJT 2.0 technology and is aimed at utility-scale applications, was featured in the recent TaiyangNews virtual conference on Solar Power Plant developments (see presentation here).

As Huasun's latest product is listed so close to the top, this has changed the rankings of many other companies' products, including last month's new entrant on 3rd rank from Maxeon, which came out with a 23% IBC module. This module superseded a 22.8% product, and was the first efficiency improvement from the house of Maxeon after nearly 1.5 years.

The other changes in this edition can be seen from SPIC, which has launched its Andromeda 3.0 module series based on so called TBC that stands for TOPCon based back contact cell technology. The best efficiency of the commercially available modules of this series is 22.8%, replacing its predecessor Andromeda 2.0 in our list with 22.3% efficiency. However, the latest product is rated with 30 W lower power. Astronergy has also increased the best efficiency of its commercially available TOPCon modules by 0.1% while the power rating improved by 5 W to 585 W; the bifacial module now comes with an absolute efficiency of 22.6%. Jinergy is promoting a higher efficiency HJT module based on the same wafer format of M6 but a different configuration, consisting of 144 half cells. This bifacial module achieves a power rating of 475 W and an efficiency of 21.85%, an improvement of 80 W in power and 0.17% higher efficiency over the previous product. Trina Solar is now also represented with a high power module Vertex N 700W, replacing its Vertex S+, but with the same efficiency of 22.5%.

Astronergy's PERC module is now listed with a 0.1% lower efficiency compared to the previous module as the high-efficiency PERC product range data sheets have not been accessible on the company's website during the research phase for this month's ranking.

No changes could be seen in the top 2 ranks. Aiko Solar, one of the leading Chinese cell manufacturers that has recently expanded into modules, again holds the top position with a ground breaking commercial record efficiency of 24%. The module was displayed first during the SNEC trade fair in Shanghai and then at Intersolar Europe in Munich. Aiko broke its own record of 23.6% that featured in our TOP SOLAR MODULES listing since March. Aiko's AIKO-A620-MAH72Mw has a power rating of 620 W. Like its predecessor, the new record module product is also from its ABC module series that relies on back contact cell architecture. In May, we included LONGi Solar's Hi-MO6 module with an updated efficiency of 23.2%. As a result, LONGi has made the No. 2 position its own, which it shared with Maxeon before May 2023.

For details about the different modules – changes and new entries – please check the Results & Changes section below, following the Background, Methodology chapters.

Background

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 August 2022 (download report here) and our most recent annual conference on Solar Module Innovations took place on January 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. TaiyangNews has also published 2 reports presenting the analysis of this monthly list – an annual overview analyzing the developments over the course of the last year, (see TOP SOLAR MODULES 2022), and an extended analysis to June 2023 that was published during Intersolar Europe (see TOP SOLAR MODULES H1-2023).

Methodology

Before going into the 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 set 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 criterion for ranking in the list (whenever available in the specs, we have used 2 digits after the comma for efficiencies, otherwise one). However, as we see more often products with the same efficiency, in this case power determines 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 do not even see 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.

Results & Changes

Meeting these criteria, according to our research (status: first week of September 2023), a total of 51 products from 31 companies have made it to the current list. While the number of companies and products listed have not changed, some companies have improved efficiency and power ratings for their top modules. The most prominent change are the drops in ranking for many as we have a newcomer on rank 3.

Aiko's ABC module series remains at the top with an efficiency of 24%, surpassing its own previous high of 23.6%. This change happened in the month of June. Aiko's ABC module product is rated with up to 620 W power coming from 144 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 and stands for All Back Contact. The module efficiency was certified by TÜV SÜD, and the product is also commercially available. Aiko has also provided a list of projects as proof where the module series has been used in commercial-scale installations.

The Hi-MO6 module from LONGi was updated in May – at 23.2%, it has remained unchanged in the No. 2 position. LONGi's product is based on its 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.

Huasun's HJT module now holds the 3rd place, which is the most prominent change for this version. Also belonging to the same Himalaya series, this latest module from Huasun is based on the G12 wafer size and 132 half-cell configuration. The module has an efficiency of 23.02% and a power rating of 715 W, which is not only the highest among all listed products but also the first time that a module has surpassed the 700 W benchmark. The module is also bifacial which, along with its high power attribute, makes the product highly compatible to utility-scale applications. Huasun has been promoting this outstanding product for a few months but has only now provided production and shipment, thus confirming commercial availably that has led to the inclusion of the product in our ranking.

The Maxeon 6 module introduced last month is now ranked 4th. This module is built with 66 cells of 166 format and designed with white backsheet and a black frame structure. With about 23% efficiency, 445 W power and n-type IBC cell technology, it comes with an outstanding performance warranty period of 40 years.

SPIC's in our ranking has been remarkable – from position 22 in August to 5th in September by improving the efficiency of its top product by 0.5% absolute. While the company had been promoting an efficiency of 22.3% till last month, it has now commercialized its latest Andromeda 3.0 product series with a top efficiency of 22.8%. The company has also provided the shipment and production data indicating the commercial availability of the product. The module features an elegant full black design combined with TBC cell technology, which is an IBC concept adopted on the TOPCon base cell architecture. The bifacial module, with a bifaciality of 70% and built with 120 half cells, has a power rating of 410 W. SPIC is offering a 30-year power warranty for this product.

As a result of Huasun and SPIC moving up, JinkoSolar's best product has now been demoted to 6th place from 4th. The performance numbers of Jinko's Tiger Neo TOPCon module JKMN-72HL4-V remained unchanged at a power rating of 585 W and an efficiency of 22.65%.

Astronergy's AstroN5 represents another improvement in the September edition. It now enjoys the 7th place all alone. The company was among 8 companies that were offering 22.5% efficiency products, thus sharing the 7th rank. However, the company is now promoting a product with 22.6% efficiency that is produced and shipped in commercial quantities. The latest variant of the Astro N5 series, like the previous one, is also built with 144 half-cut cells and 182 mm wafer format. The main difference is that the current variant is bifacial. It now reaches a slightly higher efficiency and a higher power rating of 585 W.

The best module of the early adopter of TOPCon technology, Jolywood, whose products have not undergone any changes technically, has now slipped to 8th position. However, in August, its former Niwa Light module was replaced with a bifacial product called Niwa Pro that has the same specifications of 440 W power and 22.53% efficiency.

The next efficiency level of 22.5% is shared by as many as 7 companies. While this efficiency level was good for a 7th rank in the previous edition, it now earns only a 9th position. Risen gets the first mention in the group, which is structured according to power first, and if equal, an alphabetical order is applied.

Risen Energy's Hyper-ion module, which was included in June, remains unchanged. This HJT module from Risen has an efficiency of 22.5%, corresponding to a very high rated power of 700 W. The product is built with 132 half cells, cut from 210 mm original format, and it's bifacial. It shares the 9th rank with 6 other products on the list.

Trina Solar's Vertex N series has replaced the previous Vertex S+ in the current edition. While both the product groups have the same efficiency, the former has a high power of 700 W compared to 450 W for Vertex S+, thus the company's order among the 9th ranked products (22.5% efficiency) has went up from last but one to second. The TSM-NEG21C.20 is built with 210 mm wafers and 132 half cut cells. This bifacial module, using a 2 mm glass on both sides, reaches a bifaciality of 80 ± 5%.

DAS Solar's DAS-DH156NA is now also listed on the 9th position. This n-type TOPcon solar module remained unchanged with 156 half cells and 630 W power.

JA Solar's TOPCon listing also saw change in power ratings in the last edition. The JAM72D42 630/LB has a higher power of 630 W compared to the 530 W JAM72D40 580/GB product, but the efficiency has stayed the same at 22.5%, and thus ranked 9th. It is a bifacial double glass module with a bifaciality of 80 ±10% and is built with 144 half cells of G12 size and 16-busbars, Using the G12 wafer format. As to the physical characteristics, the module measures 2,465 x 1134 x 35 mm and weighs 34.6 kg.

Canadian Solar's TopHiKu6 TOPCon model is yet another module that comes with 22.5% efficiency. The module entered our list in June 2023, replacing a bifacial product, and has 0.2% higher efficiency. CS6W-560-580T has 144 half cells with 182 mm wafer format. Interestingly, one more product from Canadian Solar also shares the 9th rank. However, this HiHero series, based on HJT, is a smaller module built with 108 G12 wafers in half-cell configuration, thus has a lower rated power of 440 W.

TW Solar's TOPCon module, which joined the list in April 2023, has remained unchanged since then and is now at 9th position. The product is designed with a TNC cell type, an anodized aluminum alloy frame and features a linear warranty of 30 years for power output. This product also built with 144 half-cells using the G12 wafer format and has an efficiency of 22.5% and 580 W power.

DMEGC, that entered out listing in June, has not made any changes to its listed products. This bifacial module of the company is designed with 144 half cells of 182 mm wafer format that ultimately reaches an efficiency of 22.45% and a corresponding rated power output of 580 W. This earns it a 16th position which it shares with Qn-Solar.

Qn-Solar, a Chinese solar cell and module manufacturer, has entered our list in July 2023. Originally a project developer and EPC, the 2014 launched Shanghai-headquartered company also operates its own power plants, and has been recently strongly expanding into the manufacturing field to reach 69 GW cell and 39 GW module capacity in 2023, according to their website. The company is promoting TOPCon modules with an efficiency of up to 22.45%. Qn-Solar's listed bifacial TOPCon product has a rated power of 580 W and is built on the 182 wafer format with 144 half cells. Qn-Solar is also promoting a PERC module that qualifies with an efficiency of 21.57%, which earns it an inclusion in our current listing at the 41st position. That module has an output power of 670 W.

A new product series, called STAR Pro that was updated in August is representing EGingPV's TOPCon range in the list. The top module of the STAR Pro comes with a module efficiency of 22.45%. This bifacial module, built with 182 mm wafer format and 144 half-cells, has a rated power of 580 W. This is module is now ranked 16th.

URECO is a manufacturer formed after merging of the 3 leading cell manufacturers of Taiwan – Neo Solar Power, Gintech and Solartec. This company is offering the products based on all 3 mainstream cell technologies – PERC, TOPCon and HJT. While PERC products were already part of our earlier listing, the modules based on the remaining 2 advanced cell technologies were included in our August edition. Named GLORY, the company's TOPCon series is represented through its FBF580B8D model with an efficiency of 22.45%, which means it shares the 16th place with the abovementioned products from DMEGC and Qn-Solar. The HJT module of the company, with a rated efficiency of 22.44%, misses the spot with a very narrow gap of 0.01%, putting it 4 ranks down to #20. Called GLORY HELLO, the module is built with 120 half-cells using the 210 mm wafer format; it has a power rating of 635 W.

Runergy, which entered our list in July, is another leading Chinese cell vendor that ventured into the module business recently (for background watch our interview with Runergy CTO Yang Yang). The 2 product streams of Runergy based on TOPCon and PERC cell technologies were featured in our review for the first time in July. The TOPCon model of the company, HY-DH156N8, is based on 156 half-cells of 182 mm format and MBB layout; it has an efficiency of 22.4% and 625 W output power, which means the 21st position in our ranking. However, its PERC module, with 600 W with 21.5% is placed 48th. Another product that shares the 21st position is a TOPCon module from Suntech with the same efficiency of 22.4%. This bifacial module is built with 182 mm sized 156 half-cells leading to a power rating of 625 W. Another product from Suntech featuring since July 2023 has an efficiency of 21.7% and is among the top efficiency products in the PERC category, earning it the 29th rank.

Part of the vertically integrated GCL Group, which owns the largest silicon production capacity in the solar industry, GCL Integration (GCL-Si) is offering solar modules and battery storage products as well as full PV project solutions (for details on GCL Group, watch our interview with Group Chairman Gongshan Zhu). In the July edition, we included 2 module products from GCL-Si. The GCL GEMINI, representing the TOPCon range of the company, has an efficiency of 22.3% and power output of 575 W. The bifacial n-type module is designed with 182 mm wafer format and 144 half-cut cells – and shares the 23rd rank with REC.

REC's top HJT module offered commercially hasn't seen any change as of early September. The Singapore based manufacturer's Alpha Pure-R series HJT product is available with an unaltered efficiency of up to 22.3% and 430 W module power.

Akcome now stands at the 25th position. The company's Ak ipower HJT module has an efficiency of 22.22%. This PV panel is built with 132 half-cells based on the 210 mm wafer size and reaches a rated power of 690 W. Akcome also promotes a 560 W and 21.68% efficiency bifacial PERC module built with 144 half-cells sliced from M10 cells. This PERC product shares the 35th rank with JinkoSolar's Tiger Pro PERC module that has the same efficiency.

SolarSpace belongs to the category of leading cell manufacturers venturing into module making. The company, offering both PERC and TOPCon products, entered our rankings in July. Its Lumina II based TOPCon cell technology panel of 430 W is built with 108 half cells based on the 182 mm wafer format and has an efficiency of 22.02%, positioning it at rank 26. Lumina I from SolarSpace is a PERC module with 21.57% efficiency and is one among 6 products sharing the 41st rank on the list.

The remaining 25 products listed are below 22%, of which 2 are based on HJT while the bulk are PERC modules.

Jinergy is listed with a new HJT module with 21.85% efficiency, 0.17% points higher than the previously listed product, thus takes the 27th position. Not just efficiency, the JNHM144-475 is a larger module built with 144 cells, and also has a higher power rating of 475 W. It is bifacial too, with bifaciality exceeding 85%.

As previously, Meyer Burger is offering its HJT product with the same efficiency of 21.8% and power rating of 390 W, now listed at the 28th position.

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 21.7%, the cell technology is key.

As shown in our TOP SOLAR MODULES H1-2023 overview report, PERC in general was not able to support efficiencies above 21.6% until the 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 efficiencies up to 21.7%. Until November 2022, LONGi and Risen were in this group; then, in January, Canadian Solar joined; TW Solar joined in February; DAS Solar entered in April; and in July, Suntech joined the list of 21.7% efficient PERC modules– and all of them are ranked #29. Following the order of rated power, the third module of Canadian Solar in this list, the HiKu7, is based on 132 half-cell configuration with 210 mm wafer size and a rated power of 675 W. Risen Energy's TITAN module is built with 132 half cells of the 210 mm wafer format for a rated power of 675 W. LONGi's HiMO5m module is built with 144 cells of 182 mm cell size and 560 W power. Suntech's Ultra V module has a design of 144 half cells of the 182 mm wafer format. It has a rated power output of 560 W. TW Solar, which was listing a 21.5% efficiency product 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, stripping cells into 5 and a total of 61 cells are used to build this shingled module.

If rounded, the next 2 would also reach 21.7%, but the companies – Akcome and Jinko – chose not to do so in their spec sheets. JinkoSolar's Tiger Pro is a module with 21.68% efficiency based on a 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. Thus, the two products now share the 35th rank.

Of the remaining 15 PERC products, 4 reach 21.6% efficiency, one less than the previous month, holding the 37th position. 3 products of this group – GCL-Si, Talesun and Trina Solar – have the same power rating of 670 W owing to the same cell count of 132 half cells of G12 size. JA Solar's DeepBlue 3.0 built with M10 sized 156 half cells has a lower power rating of 605 W. While listed lower, it is ranked the same at 37th.

The next 6 products rated with 21.57% efficiency share the 41st rank, of which 3 are from Qn-Solar, SolarSpace and URECO that all entered our list in July, while Jinergy, Seraphim and Yingli are the other 3. All these products have the same rated power of 670 W. These modules are built with 132 half cells of the 210 mm wafer format. EGingPV's PERC product is the lone beholder of the 47th rank with an efficiency of 21.56%, but the power rating of 670 W is the same as of the products from the group above. Not truly technical, but one change with respect to Astronergy's PERC products is that the data sheets of its previously listed Astro 6 Semi series of the company that were listed with 21.6% efficiency were not accessible during our research period (1st week September), thus the company is now represented by the lower efficiency PERC product range, the Astro5 Twins that come with a 21.5% and rated power of 555 W. As a result, this lowest efficiency band of 21.5% is now represented by 4 products at the 48th rank. The products from Runergy, Q Cells and CECEP are the remaining 3 sharing this position and have remained unchanged.

Summary

In the September 2023 update of the TOP Solar Modules ranking, 2 major changes have taken place. The first one is Huasun's HJT module featuring 0.49 percentage  points higher efficiency that pushed its product ranking up from 5th to 3rd. This new addition even represents a top power rating across the list at 715 W; there is no other module with so much power listed. Another major efficiency upgrade has been realized by SPIC. The company's Andromeda 3.0 series module featuring a new cell TBC technology – combining back contacts and TOPCon – improved efficiency also by 0.5%, which improved its ranking by 17 positions, up to rank 5 from 22nd in the previous edition. Astronergy's AstroN5 series is now represented with 0.1% points higher efficiency with a 22.6% efficiency variant. Jinergy has also improved the efficiency of its HJT module that is now rated at 21.85% instead of 21.68% that has also improved its ranking, from 34 to 27. Trina Solar's best TOPCon module is represented by a more powerful product with a rated power of 700 W, but with the same efficiency, while not changing the ranking. Astronergy's PERC products went down in the rankings as the data sheets of the previous highest efficiency PERC series were not accessible online during our research period. The inclusion of Huasun so close to the top altered the rankings of most products in the current TOP MODULES listing, except for the top 2. Aiko maintains its place as the efficiency leader with a commercial record efficiency of 24%, followed by LONGi in 2nd with 23.2% efficiency. Overall, the trend towards higher efficiency module continues – with 4 commercial solar modules now reaching or exceeding the 23% level.

Report: If you want to learn more about commercial module efficiencies of integrated module producers, please check our TOP SOLAR MODULES H1/2023 report. Here we have looked at the monthly columns for the last 18 months of this ranking – with a focus on H1/2023 – and analyzed the trends and developments for the different cell technologies (PERC; TOPCon, HJT, Back Contact) and listed companies (free download of TOP SOLAR MODULES H1/2023 report here).

PS: If you have spotted a solar module somewhere that meets our criteria and missing in this list, please do send us the website link with the product specs to top-modules@taiyangnews.info.

Disclaimer: TaiyangNews does not guarantee reliability, accuracy or completeness of this TOP SOLAR MODULES Listing's content. TaiyangNews does not accept responsibility or liability for any errors in this work.

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