With the advent of the era of grid parity, how to minimize LCOE has become the main concern for the PV industry. To some extent, improving power generation by increasing the size of a module has become a consensus in the industry, but how can standardization on large-size modules reduce the cost of the whole industrial chain in the journey toward grid parity? JinkoSolar, LONGi and JA Solar recently held a joint conference entitled “Customer Value Focused – Advanced PV Technology for Better LCOE”, engaging in in-depth discussions with industry experts and industrial chain partners. Internal agreement was reached in the conference that 182mm modules would generate more marketing opportunities.
The High Reliability of JinkoSolar 182mm Modules
Through a large number of reliability tests, 182mm modules have demonstrated proven high reliability in production processing. During the process of cost reduction and increase in power, how can the 182mm size guarantee module reliability? Leo Yu, Senior Manager of Global Product Management at JinkoSolar, commented: “The excellent results of 182mm modules under the extended IEC reliability test showed that an entire power plant can maintain regular operational performance during our warranty period, ensuring the project’s profitability.”
JinkoSolar recognises that a power plant system has high requirements in terms of module power warranty, which will have a direct impact on plant revenue. Greater module reliability can effectively ensure long-term stable power generation performance and the excellent power warranty of the 182mm module can meet the requirement of clients. Leo Yu said: “JinkoSolar guarantees 2% degradation for the first year and 0.45% from the second to the thirtieth year. With regards to mechanical loading, working temperature and risk of hot spots, the 182mm module is proven to be a product with a long life cycle.”
The significant reduction in power generation loss of the 182mm module
182mm and 210mm modules are well known in the market as large-size high-power modules. Compared to 210mm panels, 182mm modules can significantly reduce power generation loss, which can also be caused by cable loss and operating temperature. As the experts said, reverse current control will have a significant impact on the hot spot temperature of the module, so strict quality control will enable 182mm products to have excellent long-term reliability.
The delivery guarantee of the 182mm module
The 182mm panel has been proven to have great delivery reliability in terms of module size and adaptability during installation.
For module transportation, the risk of crack and breakage is increased with larger module sizes. The storage risk is also increased during vertical container transshipment. Manufacturers carried out module and transportation reliability tests after agreeing on the width of a 182mm module as being around 1130mm, determined by the height of a container door, to ensure that there are no problems during transportation of large batches.
Industry data has indicated that the container utilization ratio of a 182mm module is better than for 158/166 equivalents. For a 182mm module, the loading capacity in each container could be 10-20% more than the average and the relative capacity could be increased by over 15%. With regard to the installation of 182mm panels, the unification by manufacturers on module size and weight makes it possible for the whole installation process to be handled by only two workers.
Excellent system compatibility of the 182mm module
The compatibility of 182mm modules has received significant support from within the industry. Many inverter suppliers have already started volume production of products compatible with 182mm modules. Chris Gan, Solution Technical Director, Smart PV Sales & Services Dept, at Huawei Technologies, commented that: “The Huawei Smart PV 196kW inverter, which we launched this year, could be fully adapted to 182mm modules.” Meanwhile, Tiger Zhang, Vice President at Sungrow Renewable Energy, introduced the group’s series of inverters and combiner boxes which could also match 182mm modules.
As for mounting systems, many mounting system suppliers are already able to offer products compatible with 182mm modules. Eric Kuo, Director of Technical Product Management at Nextracker Inc. said: “The situation that mainstream mounting products were designed to match 156 & 158mm modules has already been changed. Since last year, more and more modules have changed size. As a tracker supplier, we always cooperate with the whole PV industry to carry out product iterations and updates. For example, this time we have already developed a product which could match 182mm panels, but we will be ready to promptly provide the best solutions for new products in the future.” Huang Chunlin, Deputy General Manager of the New Energy Engineering Institute at Huadong Engineering Corporation, pointed out that the compatibility and technology of mounting systems for 182mm modules, especially tracker systems, are highly reliable in areas with high wind speeds.
Low power cost optimization of the 182mm module
The 182mm module has gradually entered mass production and become the lowest power cost optimization solution in the market by dint of its high reliability, high production efficiency, ease of auxiliary material supply and high power generation.
Firstly, the reduction in power generation losses caused by cable loss and working temperature demonstrates the advantages of the 182 module in cost reduction. Leo Yu of JinkoSolar commented that “182mm modules can reduce cable loss by 0.21% compared with 210mm modules. This will have a great impact on the entire power plant. A reduction of 0.21% on cable loss will increase the IRR by 0.15% and reduce the LCOE by 0.21% during the plant’s operation. The working temperature of the 210mm module is 6 degrees higher than that of the 182mm module. The resulting power generation loss reached nearly 2%, and this 2% needs to be made up by 0.1 yuan/watt from EPC costs.”
Mounting systems account for 19% of EPC costs, meaning that any change in mounting system costs will have a significant impact on BOS costs. In terms of tracker costs, the longest length designed by mainstream mounting system manufacturers is about 100 meters. The 182mm module can be connected by up to 3 strings on each track and the length is about 96 meters, with a 210mm module unable to achieve this length. The cost of tracker control systems with a 182mm module can be reduced by 0.015 yuan/W compared with a 210mm module, since the 210mm module cannot achieve the maximum length supported by the tracker.
Moreover, 182mm modules have significant advantages in terms of labour and transportation costs. The labour cost is divided into three parts, which are cost of tracker installation, trenching and field leveling costs. Using as an example a 120MW DC project in an A class light resource area in China, the difference in labour cost between a 210mm module and a 182mm module is about RMB 800,000. In terms of transportation, compared with 158mm/166mm modules, the wattage and utilization rate of each container of 182mm modules is higher, and the average wattage of a single container can be further increased by 10%-20%.
In summary, as a mature PV product, the 182mm module has become a mainstream choice for the market thanks to its numerous advantages, including low cable loss and low internal loss.