Ean GoodguyOctober 2, 20181780
Everything Important About High-efficiency Solar Panels
The primary goal in the field of the solar panel manufacturing goal, producing as much energy in as little space as possible. That’s why high-efficiency solar panels thrive in the private market, where ideal roof space is sometimes limited.
While conventional solar panels average around 16 to 17% efficiency, modules labeled “high-efficiency” are at least 19% efficient. Many brands are promoting their high-efficiency modules to 22% and higher. The principal benefit of higher-efficiency modules is more significant, more reliable power yield. Efficient cells produce more energy over a more extended period, and the advanced generation methods panel companies use to get higher efficiencies often lead to a more dependable product.
Improved energy and efficiency also means an increased panel price, but Suvi Sharma, CEO of high-efficiency panel manufacturer Solaria, said the more powerful modules can actually save money in the bigger picture.
“Solaria PowerXT modules produce more power per square-meter area,” Sharma said. “This reduces installation costs due to fewer balance-of-system components.
“System costs are highly dependent on the power density of solar panels,” he maintained. “Other system costs, such as labor, land, and inverters, are not going down over time, so the most significant lever to reduce costs is to increase the efficiency of the panels.”
Manufacturers increase efficiency in some ways. Solaria doesn’t use busbars or ribbon interconnections and places its cells closer together, reducing inactive space connecting the cells. This leads to higher power and efficiency. SunPower and LG use back-contact technology which makes all electrical contacts on the back of the cell and generates the most space on the front to capture more energy. Panasonic uses 5-in. solar cells instead of 6-in. cells (which are more common in the industry). This allows Panasonic to use 96 cells in the same footprint as a common 60-cell module. Less large cells are more reliable, and there are fewer chances for microcracks and decreased output over time.
If high-efficiency modules are so fabulous, why aren’t they being used across the board? Mukesh Sethi, general manager of the solar and energy storage division at Panasonic, said bigger projects don’t usually use high-efficiency modules because stakeholders are more concerned about overall costs.
The Panasonic N340 HIT Solar Panel System
“They would not spend extra money on high-efficiency modules,” Sethi stated of commercial rooftop installations and large ground-mounts. “If there’s more than enough space, they don’t need high-efficiency modules.”
When shading or other restrictions prevent a consistent stream of sunlight, production has to be maximized in the few spots where panels can be triumphantly installed. On tricky sloped roofs where only four solar panels might work, more expensive high-efficiency brands are trusted to produce more power.
“Failures usually happen after 10 years with traditional modules,” Sethi declared. “Everyone gives a 25-year warranty, but [is that manufacturer] going to be around in 25 years? Saving X amount of dollars [using traditional modules] isn’t even meriting it.”
Sethi announced that Panasonic’s high-efficiency modules have the same nameplate watt-rating as traditional modules, but high-efficiency modules have better performance and less degeneration, so they’ll produce more, higher power over an extended period of time.
“The [watt] label is not everything,” he stated. “[High-efficiency modules] have much deeper savings in the long run.”
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