Low-carbon development has become a global megatrend. The International Renewable Energy Agency forecasts that solar PV capacity will reach a total of more than 14,000GW by 2050 in a 1.5°C scenario. Solar energy’s key advantage over conventional sources of energy is its ability to reduce LCOE. According to BloombergNEF, solar LCOE has fallen 84% over the past 10 years.
Trina Solar, adopting a user-centered approach, has steadfastly advocated the LCOE-oriented principle, that of reducing LCOE in PV power stations with high power, high efficiency, high reliability and high energy yield. Dr. Franck Zhang, Trina Solar’s head of product strategy and marketing, says the Vertex 600W+ module is a product that fully meets the four keys to unlocking low LCOE.
Almost all top solar companies have developed 600W+ products, as evidenced in recent events such as Intersolar South America and Intersolar Europe, with about 30 companies exhibiting more than 40 600W+ modules. With various products on the market, the solar sector has entered the 600W+ era.
In a recent interview, Franck Zhang talked in detail about 600W+, the significance of the LCOE-oriented principle, new technology trends and responding strategies, and Trina Solar's strategic positioning and planning.
Q: Trina Solar is the first solar company to elaborate on the LCOE-oriented principle from a systemic perspective. What is the strategic significance of this principle to Trina Solar?
Franck Zhang: The LCOE-oriented principle is from the result of our real-world experience. The development of the solar industry proves that what we call the four keys are essential for reducing LCOE. By putting forward the LCOE-oriented principle we hope to boost R&D and commercialization of products that meet the LCOE-oriented principle, for high-quality and sustainable development of the PV industry.
Q: What are the advantages of 600W+ modules in energy yield from a full-life-cycle perspective, and could you tell us about some empirical test data regarding this?
Franck Zhang: The energy yield advantage of 600W+ modules comes from excellent low irradiation performance. We consider irradiance range lower than 1,000W/m2 as low irradiation, because STC is taken under an irradiance range of 1,000W/m2. Globally we selected outdoor test sites from high, middle, and low latitudes. Results show that the energy yield of 600W+ modules is superior to that of reference modules, with an increase of 1.4-2.24% at 800W/m2, and about 0.8% under 800-1,000W/m2. If the irradiation range is above 1,000W/m2 there is no obvious gap in energy yield between 600W+ modules and reference modules. As in typical regions of the world, the irradiation range is less than 1,000W/m2 about 90% to 99% of the time, and 600W+ modules have the edge in energy yield in most areas.
A comprehensive analysis shows that 600W+ modules have a gain of 1.5% to 1.8% in energy yield over regular 500W+ modules.
Q: Could you talk about what efforts and new attempts Trina Solar has made to meet the LCOE-oriented principle?
Franck Zhang: In terms of module reliability, we conducted static mechanical load test and five rigorous tests to verify the mechanical performance of 600W+ modules under extreme conditions. Modules are expected to be in service reliably for 25 or even 30 years, which guarantees the continuous power generation and LCOE reduction.
In terms of energy yield, we have conducted empirical tests at different latitudes, covering different irradiation ranges and climates worldwide.
In terms of ecosystem, as an initiator of the 600W+ Photovoltaic Open Innovation Ecological Alliance, we have been implementing the concept of open innovation and collaborative development, connecting core links from R&D, manufacturing to application, overcoming numerous challenges in the industry and accelerating the industrialization of 600W+ modules. We have about 100 partners with 600W+. The LCOE-oriented principle will not only drive Trina Solar to develop products and technologies, but also facilitate the development of industry partners.
Q: What cell technology does Trina Solar use in 600W+ products? You mentioned several times that the 210 is a "technology platform", how to understand this concept?
Franck Zhang: We are using PERC technology, and the module power can reach 660W-670W. With the mass production of N-type TOPCon modules, power can increase to 680W-690W. Combined with HJT in the future it could reach 700W+.
We call it the 210 technology platform because it is compatible with most cutting-edge cell technologies, including HJT. Almost 90% of HJT companies choose our 210 technology platform. We believe that it will also be compatible with perovskite and other tandem solar cells in the future.
Trina Solar has shipped more than 30GW of 210 modules worldwide, with the industry as a whole shipping more than 50GW by June. Total shipments of 210 modules are expected to reach 80GW by the end of this year.
Q: When do you expect 600W+ modules to become a mainstream product in the market?
Franck Zhang: According to third-party forecasts, market share of 600W+ modules will exceed 50% in the second half of 2024 or 2025.
In China, 600W+ products are used in all aspects, both utility-scale and distributed; in overseas markets, 600W+ modules are used in almost all utility-scale projects. Trina Solar has supplied 600W+ modules to a number of GW-level utility power stations, with a presence throughout Latin America, Europe, and elsewhere in settings including deserts and fisheries, in commercial and industrial markets, helping many industries to attain low carbon goals.
Q: Many companies have 700W+ modules using HJT technology. How does Trina Solar see the competition with new technology products, and what is Trina Solar's strategy?
Franck Zhang: Trina Solar is ready with a large supply capacity in terms of TOPCon and PERC technologies.
With the 210 technology platform we are not in competition with HJT but rather in a complementary relationship. We also have new technologies in the pipeline. The schedule of industrialization will be determined by company strategy, market demand and future investment plans.
Q: Some manufacturers have made modules with power output above 700W. Do you think power output will increase further and further? Or is there an "optimal solution"?
Franck Zhang: As technology advances, module power will continue to increase, which is an inevitable trend. We believe that 600W will be an important phase. 700W+ modules may become the mainstream three years from now.
The 210 technology platform is compatible with a variety of leading cell technologies. Most companies can adapt it to reduce iteration costs and open up new tracks for industry development.
Trina Solar has N-type products, which is also created upon 210 technology platform, and mass production power will reach 680W-690W, which is more competitive.
We would like to take this opportunity to share our LCOE-oriented principle with the industry. We look forward to working with our partners, especially PV module manufacturers, to further reduce LCOE and make contributions to the goal of carbon neutrality.