Photovoltaic industry trends: after solar silicon, who will be the biggest technological change driving PV development?

· Maysun Solar News

Photovoltaics is undoubtedly the most economically advantageous and scalable clean energy source at the moment, and is also the "helmsman" driving the energy revolution. Industry insiders believe that by the end of 2022, the world is expected to achieve parity in light storage for the first time, which means that the logic of new energy alternatives to fossil energy has been established and the logic of long-term PV growth has been established.


Cost decline is still the core logic, behind the continuous innovation of technology. The industry believes that, following solar silicon wafers, the next 10 years, is expected to drive the biggest technological changes in the development of photovoltaic solar cells, 2022 will be the first year of N-type batteries into the industrialization. In terms of technology routes, HIT/HJT and TOPCON are expected to develop in parallel over a longer period of time.


In 2022, the industry expects the global installed capacity to reach 220GW to 250GW, and in terms of segmentation, the price of solar silicon has definitely dropped, and the bottom price will be established in the repeated competition between solar silicon manufacturers and end-users; the investment opportunities in the field of encapsulation film, PV backsheet, low temperature silver paste and other auxiliary materials are worthy of attention.


 The long-term growth logic of PV has been established against the backdrop of the increasing global emphasis on new energy and China's domestic implementation of the "double carbon" strategy.


For the PV industry growth logic, SOLARZOOM new energy think tank head Ma Yiwei said in an interview with reporters, with 2022 solar silicon prices fall, the cost of electricity, driving the integration of light storage into the era of parity, which also means that the cost of the entire new energy industry to reduce to the same level as fossil energy.


 According to Longi's calculations, by 2030, the annual global PV installation scale will reach more than 1500GW; according to the life cycle of PV modules, the PV module replacement period will begin in the 31st year after installation. These two factors have contributed to PV becoming an industry with an annual demand of over 1,000GW and continued growth.


Specifically for 2022, industry players interviewed were also generally bullish, predicting global installations to be between 220GW and 250GW, an increase of more than 30% from 2021.


"One, the new demand, and two, the amount that was not installed in 2021 due to the rise in solar silicon, will both be realised in 2022." Ma Yiwei explained.


"The amount of installed capacity in 2022 is determined by the battle between solar silicon prices and PV module costs." Analysts at PV industry media, Global PV, further analysed that from 2018 to 2021, the industry generally predicted installed volumes based on subsidies from the National Energy Administration. In 2022, with solar silicon production capacity being released and PV module prices unable to withstand the high cost of USD 0.346/W, it is unlikely that solar silicon prices will return to USD 42.57/KG, with the battle between the two ultimately bringing solar silicon prices down and installed capacity up.


 Photovoltaics is typically a technology-driven industry. Over the past 10 years, from polycrystalline to monocrystalline, coupled with diamond wire, solar wafer technology innovation has become a powerful tool for the photovoltaic industry to reduce the cost of electricity. In the industry's view, in the next 10 years, battery technology innovation will become the new industry growth logic, bringing excess profits to relevant practitioners.


"In the coming period, the battery link breakthrough is the most likely." For the direction of change in the industry, industry insiders said that with technological innovation, PV batteries will gradually shift from P-type to N-type, and 2022 will be the first year of industrialisation of N-type batteries.


"We are mainly optimistic about HIT/HJT." For N-type cells, Ma Yiwei said that HIT/HJT will be the most desirable technology route based on decreasing production costs, increasing conversion efficiency, and then considering the product's whole life cycle power generation and carbon emission reduction. "It may be that some industry practitioners have chosen TOPCON in the short term, but HIT/HJT will be expected to enter large-scale industrialisation after the introduction of silver-clad copper mass production and thin silicon wafers are achieved by the end of 2022."


According to the industry, TOPCON conversion efficiency of 24% or more, the demand for equipment and existing PERC cell technology route can be compatible, with the advantage of low cost of industrialization; HIT process simple conversion rate is higher, more suitable for battery thin wafer, double-sided demand, but facing the problem of high investment in equipment.


According to industry sources, compared with the current mainstream PERC cells, the ABC cells developed by the company use a new back contact structure, the front of the cell without any grid line shading, the laboratory photoelectric conversion efficiency of 26%, is expected to reach 25.5% efficiency after mass production in 2022, its non-silicon cost is expected to do the same as PERC or even lower, conversion efficiency than PERC to improve about 10% of power generation.


The industry giants are a little more cautious, with the usual refrain being that no single technology route currently shows a clear advantage in the N-cell sector.


The cost of electricity is the first principle of PV, which determines the path of industrialisation and investment in the technology. It is expected that TOPCON and HIT will develop in parallel on industrialisation in the next four to five years.