After the significant upwards revisions made to global solar PV manufacturing capacity expansion announcements in the first half of 2017, which we reviewed in a previous blog, the third quarter was characterised by much more tempered plans.
Laser micromachining specialist 3D-Micromac said it was supplying Hanwha Q CELLS solar cell plant in Qidong, Jiangsu-province, China with its microCELL OTF laser system for its recently announced transition from Al-BSF (Aluminium Back Surface Field) to PERC (Passivated Emitter Rear Cell) technology.
Hanwha Q CELLS introduced a benchmark high-efficiency Q.PEAK DUO module series that combines half-cut cell technology, six-bus-bars and the company’s proprietary Q.ANTUM (PERC) monocrystalline cell technology with efficiencies of close to 20% and power outputs of up to 330Wp from 120 half-cut cells and up to 395Wp from 144 half-cut cells.
‘Silicon Module Super League’ (SMSL) member Hanwha Q CELLS is starting to migrate solar cell capacity at its China-based facilities to PERC (Pasivated Emitter Rear Cell) technology, highlighting the shift away from standard BSF (Back Side Field) technology for higher conversion efficiencies.
PV Tech reached its own little milestone of having reported and analysed the R&D spending habits of the same 12 key PV module manufacturers for 10 years. The results have just been published in sister technical journal Photovoltaics International as part of the annual leaders and laggards of R&D spending for 2016.
The significance of PV-Tech’s forthcoming conference in Kuala Lumpur – PV ModuleTech 2017 – has just moved to a new level, with the key company executives from all members of the Silicon Module Super League (SMSL) giving presentations on stage about the quality, reliability, and performance of their solar modules.
Once upon a time, it was relatively easy to verify a PV module manufacturer’s shipment claims and therefore any market share gains or shipment milestone claims as the majority of leading companies were public listed entities.
Updated: With the solar industry transitioning to high-performance products backed with innovation, Solar Power International 2017 in Las Vegas is showcasing an ever increasing portfolio of solar modules exceeding 300 watts in the standard 60-cell format. However, 72-cell modules exceeding 360 watts are also entering the mainstream and 400 watts is just around the corner.
Driving the high-performance wave is PERC (Passivated Emitter Rear Cell), bifacial and the migration to 5 busbars and beyond, whether with multicrystalline or monocrystalline wafers. The growing use of half-cut and multi-cut cells that reduce cell to module losses, boosting overall performance are also becoming mainstream as well as heterojunction (HJ) modules.
The use of third-party cell and module sourcing has seen a massive uptick in the solar industry, during the past 2-3 years.
The appetite of leading global module suppliers to rely on outsourced cells and modules has been clear to see in the past 12-18 months, but tends to go through almost quarterly tactical adjustments, often driven by factors that are potentially creating risk for long-term downstream asset holders of utility-scale sites.
The solar industry is set to reach annual demand at the 100GW level much earlier than has been forecast by both third-party observers and the leading component suppliers. During 2018, the solar industry is shaping up to ship more than 100GW of solar modules during the calendar year, while 2017 alone will see the number exceed 90GW comfortably.