Unveiling Photovoltaic Module Risks: Cautionary Insights on Power Overrating

Representational image. Credit: Canva

In the dynamic realm of photovoltaic technology, the dominance of PERC cells has been a notable driving force in the market. With established benchmarks and minimal discrepancies among mainstream power testing organizations, the scope for power overrating has remained relatively narrow. However, the landscape is undergoing a shift as production capacity for TOPCon cells gains momentum. Amidst this evolution, a challenge has emerged in the form of inconsistent bench-marking practices among testing bodies, leading to potential power overrating in module outputs.


A module’s rated power, a key performance indicator, represents its output power under standard test conditions, typically measured in watts (W). While the rated power offers valuable insights into a module’s performance, it does not entirely encapsulate its true output power, though it closely correlates with electricity generation. The practice of overrating power involves exaggerating a module’s actual power by using parameters that exceed its true capacity, an approach that can be categorized into product promotion or, more concerning, product delivery.

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Notably, global photovoltaic exhibitions like SNEC and Intersolar Europe, held in China and Germany respectively in May and June 2023, showcased a wide array of modules boasting varying power outputs. These outputs, ranging from tens of watts to over 700 watts, raised eyebrows due to the industry’s uniform cell and module conversion efficiencies and relatively consistent module sizes. Some manufacturers presented modules such as the 182-72c with an extraordinary power output of 620Wp and the 210-66c with a staggering 740Wp, accompanied by module conversion efficiencies of 24% and 23.9%, respectively. These figures are notably exaggerated, considering the inherent efficiency losses in the cell-to-module process.

Figure-Maximum power and corresponding conversion efficiency of the 182-72c and 210-66c modules

The challenges extend to product delivery, where some smaller module manufacturers seek short-term gains by pursuing institutions that provide inflated evaluation data. This approach not only distorts market competition but also inflates costs for downstream customers. The temptation to prioritize immediate benefits risks undermining the industry’s collective growth and potential. Experts emphasize that true competitiveness lies in sustained technological innovation and investment in research and development, urging the industry to prioritize long-term gains over fleeting successes.

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Looking ahead, industry experts advocate for the establishment of industry standards as a cornerstone of sustainable growth. Collaborative efforts among major players are crucial to driving standardization of module sizes and testing practices. While unified national standards may be absent, the impetus for change rests with market leaders, industry associations, and government bodies working together to develop consistent standards across all facets of the photovoltaic sector.

In conclusion, the journey towards a more reliable and efficient photovoltaic industry hinges on fostering innovation and long-term thinking. By collectively pursuing standardized practices and maintaining a strong commitment to technological advancement, the industry can navigate challenges, embrace growth, and establish a thriving ecosystem that propels a sustainable and prosperous future.

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