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Concerns for quality are increasingly common in the discussion in the Indian context for solar and rightly so, since a solar module is made to perform for the next 25 years. The recent discussion also has some specific concerns when it comes to the reliability of the module when it comes to bigger size and heavier modules.
Therefore it’s interesting to look into the lessons from China’s oldest solar panel installation that goes back to 39 years and still performing. The Gansu Energy Institute, which owns the 39-year-old power facility, was represented by Shimin Li who was part of the discussion. According to Li, when the size of a high-efficiency module increases, the area and weight of its aluminum frame will grow and mechanical strength will be significantly reduced. Awareness of the risk of module deformation is vital, as the frequency of breakage of large modules needs to be addressed. Product costs cannot be cut at the expense of quality, as the primary concern for a plant owner is its long term stability and guaranteed income. The importance of brand recognition should also not be underestimated, with well-known brands tending to be more reliable.
Monocrystalline silicon is itself very stable, but components such as ribbons, back sheets and aluminium frames must also be reliable to ensure the long-term stability of power generation. In terms of the future development of the PV industry, LCOE is an essential factor in driving the technological upgrade of module products, with a power plant’s power generation capability during its lifespan a key consideration. A module must not only pass standard laboratory testing but also be able to withstand extreme weather conditions such as snow pressure, hail and hurricane. As a result, module size should have some limitations, on the basis that a bigger module is not automatically a better module. It is vital that bold assumptions are thoroughly checked and challenged to avoid excessive risk-taking bringing about an endless number of concealed dangers.
A successful power plant should combine high efficiency, safety and reliability. Of these, reliability is the crucial aspect, since a plant is expected to operate continuously from the system end to the equipment end. Module size design must also consider all aspects of the industrial chain, which is driven by demand rather than manufacturing. The PV industry needs to place more emphasis on reliability. Efficiency is the goal, safety is the foundation and reliability the guarantee. All three are non-negotiable.
Industry analysts are indicating that the overall market share for 182mm modules has reached 56% this year, which suggests support for the view that cell efficiency rather than module size should be the priority. LONGi’s focus continues to be on reducing costs and increasing power, with the conversion efficiency of p-type HJT and indium-free HJT cells already increased to 25.47% and 25.40% respectively this year.
According to whole life cycle standards, LONGi products fully integrate the PV industry’s upstream and downstream activities into their planning and design. Modules are carefully selected, production is strictly monitored and after-sales support is prioritised. Only with such an approach can PV modules achieve a life cycle of 20-30 years and be fully resistant to adverse weather conditions.
Specialists from universities and third-party institutions have also expressed the view that the module is a crucial part of the PV industry chain, with its quality and safety a matter of the utmost priority. The industry must pursue a long-term strategy that is not merely a methodology, but also a value and, in certain respects, a belief. Creating long-term value is beneficial to everyone.
For India, these lessons are really critical since we are now moving towards a maturing solar industry and it’s important that we learn from the countries that have seen solar energy installations going back three decades. LONGi has been instrumental in bringing standardization in the industry by backing empirically proven 182 mm wafer size, that address the concerns and risks associated with the large size modules and hence safeguarding developer’s concern and investment.