HaHaSmart Solar NewsNovember 22, 2019249
This week, LONGi, the number one mono wafer producer, is pushing for large-scale industry change after announcing that its HI-MO4 monocrystalline solar panels have now sold 2 GW, with European availability expected in Q4 2019.
The HI-MO4 solar panel uses m6 size, 166-millimeter solar panel wafers, which is larger than previous solar panels. The divergence in larger wafer sizes began in 2018 and is now causing supply chain issues.
The president of the LONGi group says that “if manufacturers cannot reach an agreement on a size standard, it will restrict the development of the whole industry.”
Only 10 years ago, mono silicon wafers were only 125 millimeters. By 2014, the solar power industry shifted to m2, 156-millimeter size wafers due to lower cost, with LONGi and other solar companies jointly issuing new size standards, thereby increasing solar power by 5 watts peak, and creating a competitive cost-per-watt price.
Now the same thing is occurring again, due to intense market competition and increased customer demand for higher solar panel outputs in the second half of 2018.
One way to meet this demand is to change to a larger wafer size and move to half-cut or multi-cut cells. But so far solar companies have adopted different sizes, with LG and Q Cells adopting 157.4 millimeters, 158.75 millimeters, and 161.7 millimeters wafers for n-type cells, with some perhaps planning on launching 166 millimeters size in the future. Sunpower is also taking advantage of larger sizes for its s-series solar panels.
Meanwhile, LONGi and JinkoSolar are already ramping up mono-silicon wafer capacity, which is compatible with the production of larger wafers. Multicrystalline wafers are expected to follow suit.
The 2019 ITRPV roadmap predicts that 166 millimeters wafers could gain a 15% market share over the next 10 years. But to avoid obstacles, solar companies will need to agree on a new industry standard.
Longi has adopted the 166 millimeters size for its lower cost of production, higher module power, and lower Levelized cost of solar energy and balance of solar-powered system costs, and hopes others will follow.
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