LONGi launches modules with ‘standardised’ wafer sizes

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The Hi-MO X6 Max series entered mass production at its Jiaxing, China facility in the second quarter of 2024, LONGi said. Image: LONGi Green Energy Technology

Chinese solar manufacturer LONGi has launched a new solar module, which it said exhibits the benefits of standardised module and wafer sizes in the solar industry.

The Hi-MO X6 Max series entered mass production at its Jiaxing, China facility in the second quarter of 2024, LONGi said, and will exceed 30GW of annual production by Q3 2024. LONGi said that the modules are designed to meet the needs of distributed PV customers and feature ‘TaiRay Inside’ and Hybrid Passivated Back Contact (HPBC) cell technologies, which set it apart from the standard Hi-MO X6 series with increased stability and efficiency.

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The modules use rectangular 72-cell silicon wafers, which LONGi said are standardised in size across the industry. The company said it agreed on a standard dimension for modules and wafers in consultations with other companies in July and August 2023, and the wafers deployed in these modules are 182.2mm x 191.6mm M11 products.

LONGi claimed irregular wafer sizes caused increased costs and supply chain risks, which can be mitigated by standardised dimensions. It added that the standardisation reduces costs for engineering and materials companies involved in module production and installation and can lessen transport costs through consistent sizing for containers.

Cost is of particular concern to solar manufacturers at the moment in the wake of a dramatic collapse in prices across the solar supply chain.

Of the five major Chinese solar manufacturers (LONGi, JA Solar, Canadian Solar, JinkoSolar and Trina Solar) LONGi sustained the heaviest losses in Q4 2023 and Q1 2024. A PV Tech Premium feature last week showed that LONGi saw net losses of RMB942 million (US$130 million) and RMB2.35 billion (US$324 million) in Q4 and Q1, respectively, representing a year-on-year decline of 164.61%. Further analysis of the reasons for this downturn can be found in the above piece.

In March, LONGi was reportedly planning to lay off around 30% of its workforce due to overcapacity at its manufacturing plants that outweighed market demand. This figure was later reported to be closer to 5%.

As fortunes for the world’s largest solar manufacturers change for the worse – with many smaller players struggling, too – concerns have been raised about a possible impact on the quality of PV modules being deployed. The previous edition of our downstream journal, PV Tech Power, featured a deep dive into the potential impact on module quality that a downturn could have as manufacturers look for new ways to reduce costs and remain in the black.

The emergence of standardised wafer and module dimensions, and any apparent cost reduction as a result, could act as ballast against the quality reductions inherent in cost-cutting on a material or process level.

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