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PV module

FuturENERGY February 2020

LONGi’s 10 GW monocrystalline module production facility in Chuzhou is now running at full capacity, with its Phase II 5 GW reaching construction close. The additional capacity has increased the total global module production capacity of LONGi to an estimated 21 GW, exceeding its previously announced “Three-year Capacity Plan” (2019-2021)…

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Trabajadores instalando con facilidad un módulo LONGi Hi-MO 4 en una estructura fija / Workers installing the LONGi Hi-MO 4 module with ease on a fixed bracket.

There is little question that the solar market in general has thus far shown a growing preference for the LONGi Hi-MO 4 module with M6 wafer (166 mm), but there are nevertheless still some in the PV industry who have an ambiguous attitude towards this product. In this article, LONGi Solar puts together a Q&A list on the LONGi Hi-MO 4 module, with the aim of providing a more systematic and in-depth understanding of its background and benefits.

Why has LONGi chosen the M6 wafer (166mm) specification for the Hi-MO 4 module?

The cost saving and compatibility advantages of the M6 wafer (166mm) are achieved at both the manufacturing end of the industrial chain and the application end of the system. For the cost saving on the system side, the fundamental reason is that the increase of current basically makes use of the margin of the current commercial inverter and increases the capacity of a single string for unchanged Voc (the string length is unchanged). Since M6 bifacial modules fully utilize the current margin of the inverter, any wafer larger than M6 will limit the inverter’s current and lead to a loss in power generation. Although new module circuit design can reduce current, the benefit in BOS cost will disappear when compared with M6 modules.

How has the LONGi Hi-MO 4 module evolved?

LONGi optimized the design size of the Hi-MO 4 module earlier this year. The size of the 72 cell module changed to 2094x 1038 mm. The efficiency of mass produced modules exceeded 20% across the board, and that of the 450 W module reached 20.7%. The improvement in efficiency brings further BOS cost savings, and the land area occupied by a power station is also significantly reduced.

What is the difference in BOS cost between the LONGi Hi-MO 4 module and modules of other specifications?

With a 72 cell module with a 158.75 mm silicon wafer, at a PV plant adopting a centralized inverter and fixed bracket configuration, the BOS cost of the Hi-MO 4 can be reduced by 0.65 US cents/W. Although the power of a 78 cell module is equal to that of the Hi-MO 4, the reduction in the number of series connections leads to a significant gap between the cost saving of its BOS and that of Hi-MO 4.

At a PV plant adopting string inverters, the BOS cost of Hi-MO 4 can be reduced by 0.86 US cents/W due to the increase of capacity ratio.

LONGi’s Hi-MO 4 module is obviously larger. Can it really reduce installation costs?

Obviously, a high power module with an M6 wafer (166mm) brings higher power generation gains and lower BOS costs in practical application. But will the increase in module size and weight make the actual installation more difficult? Will it add more installation costs?

According to detailed research, there is no obvious difference between a Hi-MO 4 module and a conventional module in terms of handling, upper bracket and installation work. However, due to the increase in power of a single Hi-MO 4 module, the number of modules required is lower, meaning that installation effort is reduced, efficiency improved, and the overall construction period shortened, significantly lowering overall installation costs.

What is the market performance of the LONGi Hi-MO 4 module?

LONGi’s Hi-MO 4 module has been in a state of relatively short supply since it was launched, with more than 10 GW of cumulative orders and letters of intent. Shipments in 2019 reached 1.5 GW. Projects where the Hi-MO 4 module has already been utilized cover, among other territories, all regions of China, Bangladesh and Vietnam. Feedback from customers and EPCs has generally been that significant savings have been seen in most aspects of the construction process.

The market response to Hi-MO 4 has been extremely positive. In 2020, the capacity of the module will exceed 20GW, ensuring stable global supply.

After continuous optimization, the Hi-MO 4 module has an impressive mass production version, with a further reduction in weight. With the addition of bifacial technology, BOS and LCOE costs have also been lowered. The LONGi Hi-MO 4 module has quickly become the preferred choice for global clients, especially for large-scale PV power plant investors, and has demonstrated huge investment value worldwide.

Source: LONGi Solar

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JinkoSolar has emerged as the leading company in terms of global solar PV module shipments in 2019. The company also secured top position in GlobalData’s 2018 ranking produced last year.

JinkoSolar topped the 2019 ranking with 14.2 GW of PV modules compared to the second ranked JA Solar’s 10.3 GW. Most of the companies featured in the table are from Asia-Pacific (APAC).

GlobalData found that there has been no significant change in 2019’s ranking compared to 2018’s. However, the top 10 manufacturers have shown improvement in their shipments over the last year. In 2019, the top 10 manufacturers shipped approximately 80.3 GW modules compared to 63 GW in 2018, an increment of more than 27%. The top 10 manufacturers are likely to dictate with more than 75% of the module shipments in 2020.

The global solar PV market is riding high on account of higher demand, continuous reduction costs, software & technological advancements and improvement in module efficiency. The enhanced solar system efficiency and performance coupled with data analytics for better asset management and commercial monitoring has significantly reduced the LCOE and stands to improve further on greater technological advancements.

JA Solar in second place, held a strong position with a shipment increase of around 17% due to high product quality and reliability, and performance and innovation. JA Solar reported that the efforts made to expand their presence in the emerging international markets in the Middle East have led to increased module shipments and profitability.

Trina Solar and LONGi Solar occupied third and fourth place, with shipments of 9.7 GW and 9 GW, respectively. Canadian Solar came fifth with 8.5 GW; Hanwha Q CELLS was sixth with 7.3 GW; Risen Energy stood in seventh place with 7 GW; and First Solar secured eighth position with 5.5 GW shipments.

Chinese manufacturers will continue to dominate as the overall leader in solar installations in 2020 as newer emerging markets in SE Asia, Latin America and the Middle East mark their presence on the solar map as demand centers. China, the US, Europe and India will continue to remain the major markets for the solar module suppliers.

Source: GlobalData

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LONGi announces that it has achieved a new world record of 22.38% conversion efficiency for its monocrystalline module. The record has been verified by the global independent certification agency TÜV Rheinland.

LONGi has continuously pushed the PV modules efficiency limits of our high performance mono-crystalline products to further improve the price-performance ratio. This breakthrough once again confirms the development headroom of monocrystalline PV module technology. With continuous R&D investments in technologies and processes, new innovations can be rapidly applied to large-scale production, thus promoting the energy transformation led by solar energy.” Lv Jun, Vice President, LONGi Solar commented.

LONGi has always focused on the improvement of PV cell and module conversion efficiencies. In the past few years, LONGi’s mono-crystalline cell and module products have broken conversion efficiency world records many times.

As a global leading solar technology company, LONGi has the confidence and commitment to lead the global energy transformation with technological innovation. The large-scale production of high efficiency module validates LONGi relentless focus on technology.

Source: LONGi

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The photovoltaic industry enters into a new era of large-scale production

LONGi’s 10 GW mono-crystalline module production facility in Chuzhou is now running at full capacity, with its Phase II 5 GW reaching construction close. The additional capacity increased total global module production capacity of LONGi to an estimated 21 GW, exceeding its previously announced “Three-year Capacity Plan” (2019-2021).

Zhong Baoshen, Chairman of LONGi, said: “We are very optimistic about the rapid development of photovoltaic in the context of the global energy transition. The further build-up of LONGi’s global capacity of mono-crystalline modules will gradually increase LONGi’s ability to realize demand for high-efficiency products from global customers.

LONGi launched the new generation Hi-MO 4 module based on the new M6 (166 mm) silicon wafer in 2019 and has continued to optimize it. Currently, the power of Hi-MO 4 is up to 450 W in volume production with conversion efficiency of 20.7%. Further optimization has reduced the module size and weight, enabling easier installations on rooftops. Bifacial technology and high yield can reduce BOS cost and lower LCOE, making it the best choice for large photovoltaic power plants. Global potential order has surpassed 10 GW, with over 1.5 GW delivered. Customer feedback has been positive and exceeded expectations.

The market response to LONGi’s Hi-MO 4 module has exceeded expectations. We are optimistic that 166 mm wafers will become the mainstream of the photovoltaic industry’s next-generation and we will optimize the capacity of modules based on the 166 mm standard. In 2020, LONGi’s modules with 166mm wafers will exceed 20 GW, accounting for 80% of planned capacity. We will guarantee the global supply of high-power modules, helping the industry enter the era of large-scale mass production of 450 W high-power modules.” Zhong Baoshen said.

LONGi modules will meet more than 15% of newly installed photovoltaic installations worldwide. Our expansion strategy is not to compete for market dominance, but to promote the transformation of the global energy sector by improving the market supply capabilities of leading products, and to accelerate the path to 100% renewable energy globally,” added Mr. Zhong.

By 2020, global photovoltaic newly installed capacity is expected to increase to 150 GW, reaching a growth rate of more than 20%. The current market demand for high-power modules exceeds supply. Following on the heels of LONGi’s switch to modules based on the 166 mm standard, other mainstream photovoltaic module companies have also launched their 166 mm cells and modules.

Industry analysis forecasts that by the end of June 2020, the global production capacity of modules based on 166 mm cells will exceed 30 GW, and by year-end 2020, this may reach 60~70 GW. Under the backdrop of rapid industrialization and strong market response, the photovoltaic industry has officially entered the “166 era”.

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Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV), part of Abdul Latif Jameel Energy and a leading global developer of renewable utility-scale projects, has announced the financial close for Potrero Solar (296 MW dc), the Company’s second solar farm in Mexico.

FRV reached financial close last March with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Banco Nacional de Comercio Exterior (Bancomext), and it is expected that the plant which began construction in late May, will be completed by mid- 2020.

Potrero Solar is FRV’s first project in Mexico to be financed before having any of its products (energy, CELs or capacity) committed in the tender schemes, and one of the largest merchant PV projects worldwide. It is also one of the world’s largest PV projects to use bifacial technology. Once operational, the plant will trade the electricity generated as well as the associated clean energy certificates at the country’s energy market.

With an approximate area of 700 ha, Potrero Solar will be located in Lagos de Moreno, in the state of Jalisco, and will use bifacial PV modules, a new technology that has the ability to capture both direct sunlight from both the front and reflected light from the rear side.

The solar power farm will generate around 700 GWh of clean energy each year, enough to supply around 350,000 average Mexican homes and reduce the emission of 345,000 T/year of CO2. In addition, Potrero, which will be built by a consortium formed by multinationals Power China and Prodiel under an EPC contract, will boost the economic development of the local community including the potential of around 1,500 jobs during its construction phase.

Fernando Salinas, Managing Director of FRV Mexico and Central America, highlights: “Mexico is a country that offers numerous opportunities for both FRV and international investors, due to its favorable market and weather conditions for renewable energy projects. Potrero’s financial close marks a milestone as the largest bifacial plant in the world and FRV’s first fully merchant project in Mexico. By carrying out this flagship project that will lead the way for other large-scale bifacial PV plants and that is also one of the largest PV merchant projects worldwide, FRV demonstrates its leadership once again and its ability to be a spearhead in the wider renewable energy industry.”

Bancomext assures that “Potrero Solar has all the features a financial institution looks for during a transaction: an experienced, highly professional sponsor, high-quality technology, an EPC provider with a well-proven track-record and a solid financial structure. With this project, Bancomext reaffirms its leading position in the Mexican market, supporting renewable energies under the ‘spot market price’ scheme and fostering job creation in the country during the construction and operation phases.”

Fady Jameel, Deputy President and Vice Chairman of Abdul Latif Jameel, said: “At Abdul Latif Jameel Energy, we are delighted to move forward to the next phase of the Potrero project. Potrero confirms FRV’s positioning as one of the leaders in the global renewable energy sector and further reinforces our long-term commitment to Mexico’s drive for clean energy. Mexico is a strong and promising market for FRV and Abdul Latif Jameel Energy, and we look forward to seeing Potrero spearhead the development of the sector in the country and further afield.”

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Acciona has created a hub in its El Romero Solar plant (Atacama, Chile) to test new photovoltaic technologies that will improve the efficiency and performance of solar energy facilities.
The hub will focus on the mechanical and energy capacity of double-sided crystalline, split-cell and thin-film cadmium telluride (CdTe) technologies, all of them in the development phase, with the intention of shaping PV energy’s evolution. The solar modules have been produced by JA Solar and First Solar, and a variety of solar trackers will be used, manufactured by STI Nordland and Soltec.

The innovation center, in which two of the three tracker zones have already been installed, will have a power generation facility with a total capacity of 492 kWp (180 kW rated) consisting of 1,280 modules in three series of trackers connected to nine inverters. These will be assisted by other equipment to measure and monitor parameters such as incident and reflected solar radiation, ambient temperature or the production temperature of each kind of module, among others.

Unlike conventional solar modules, which only have photovoltaic cells on one side, the double-sided modules have cells on both sides of the panel to capture reflected solar radiation and increase output per surface unit occupied.

In split-cell modules each cell is divided into two parts. This reduces energy losses and improves the durability of the panel.

Finally, the thin-film modules are made from semi-conductive materials as alternatives to conventional crystalline silicon –such as cadmium telluride- that reduce both manufacturing costs and their carbon footprint during their working life.

Advanced technologies

Advanced technologies in photovoltaic solar are one of the main strategic approaches that guide Acciona’s innovation activities in the field of clean energies. One of the most innovative projects to date is the hybridization of organic photovoltaic panels in a wind turbine tower to power a turbine in the Breña wind farm (Albacete, Spain).

El Romero Solar is one of the biggest photovoltaic plants owned and operated by Acciona, with a capacity of 246 MWp. Located in the Atacama Desert in Chile, an area with some of the highest levels of solar radiation in the world, it produces energy equivalent to the consumption of around 240,000 Chilean households. Part of its capacity will be used to supply Google’s data center in the country.

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Jinko Solar has been one of only four PV module suppliers to receive a “AA” bankability rating from PV-Tech & Solar Media. Jinko Solar is the only PV module supplier to have AA-Ratings for the past 12 consecutive quarters.

In its first ever quarterly PV ModuleTech Bankability Ratings, PV Tech set out to create an independent, comprehensive and transparent ranking system to help investors, banks, project developers and EPCs differentiate between the hundreds of PV module suppliers that sell to commercial, industrial, and utility customers around the world.

Mr. Kangping Chen, CEO of JinkoSolar, commented, “We are extremely pleased to be recognized by such a reputable and independent organization as PV Tech. 2019 is already shaping up to be one of the top five warmest years on record. As the need for cleaner alternative energy solutions becomes ever more important, and as our industry continues to grow, it is becoming increasingly difficult for customers to distinguish between supplier claims. While we have always been focused on pushing through technological innovations and producing the highest quality modules in the market, we have also deliberately tried to balance profitability and the long-term sustainability of our business.”

Source: Jinko Solar

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Silicon wafer accounts for 30%-40% of the cost of a solar module. Larger wafer size increase the area exposed to light, increasing power and reducing cost. So that, since 2H-2018, the industry has continued to develop larger size wafers, leading to various specifications.

LONGi Solar has launched recently a press release stressesing the need for consistency in standards for PV wafers size. As the press release states, according to Professor Shen Wenzhong, Director, Solar Energy Research Institute of Shanghai Jiaotong University: “The 166 mm wafer has reached the allowable limit of production equipment which is difficult to overcome. This would be the upper limit of the standard for a considerable period.”

Li Zhenguo, President of LONGi Group considers that these different wafer sizes will lead to a mismatch in processes and standards in the supply chain, according to. “If manufacturers cannot reach an agreement on a size standard, it will restrict the development of the whole industry.” said.

Shen Wenzhong also said: “Existing crystal drawing and slicing equipment are compatible with 166 mm size silicon wafer. Production equipment for cell and module needs to be modified, though the costs are lower and easier to achieve. Calculated by “flux”, cell and module production line using 166 mm wafer will increase capacity by 13% as compared with the 156 mm size”.

The order books for LONGi’s Hi-MO4 modules using M6 monocrystalline silicon wafers, 166 mm, have exceeded 2 GW, so that large-scale production will commence the third quarter of 2019.

By the end of 2020, LONGi will upgrade its existing cell and module lines and transform them for production with 166 mm wafer. New lines – such as the 5 GW monocrystalline cell line in Yinchuan – will be designed for the 166 mm size from the start.

LONGi announced the price of its M6 monocrystalline silicon wafer in May-2019 at 3.47 RMB/piece, which is only a small 0.4 RMB premium compared to its M2 wafer. According to LONGi, the compatibility of wafer production lines with M6 would ensure large-scale supply in 2019, thereby reducing the price differential to less than 0.2 RMB.

Source: LONGi

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Trina Solar has received a top rating in the latest annual PV module and solar inverter bankability report issued by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). With this report, Trina Solar is now the only module manufacturer to be rated as fully bankable for four consecutive years by 100% of the experts participating in the BNEF survey.

The BNEF report has been a valuable reference for business credit at numerous financial institutions. According to the report, corporate financial health, track record of its modules in the field, and manufacturer warranties are important metrics for financial institutions in their evaluation of PV manufacturers’ bankability. Banks are comfortable providing non-recourse loans to solar projects that use PV modules from a bankable manufacturer.

For its survey, BNEF reached out to banks, funds, EPCs, independent power providers (IPPs), and technical advisors worldwide. It also engaged in in-depth interviews with quality inspectors and technology experts. These experts represent an installed PV capacity of 29GW globally.

Trina Solar Executive Vice President Yin Rongfang said, “We are very proud of the great result Trina Solar has achieved once again in this renowned industry report. The report confirms our solid financial condition, proven product quality and good corporate reputation, as well as recognizes our ongoing commitment to long-term sustainability. Trina Solar is committed to creating long-term and robust return on investment for our global customers with higher-value PV modules and integrated solutions.

The latest BNEF report also quotes the annual PV Module Reliability Scorecard, published this year by PV Evolution Labs (PVEL), where Trina Solar has been named a “Top Performer” for its outstanding module reliability and power generation performance among global module manufacturers for the fifth time in a row. The scorecard provides the most comprehensive comparison of publicly-available PV module reliability test results.

Source: Trina Solar

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