In 2022, N-type solar cells is showing a blowout trend, especially with the large-scale mass production of leading module companies such as Jinko, Trina, Chint, Dongfang Risheng, etc., the N-type technological revolution is imminent.
As a next-generation battery technology, N-type photovoltaic cells have multiple advantages such as high conversion efficiency, low attenuation, and high bifacial ratio. Among them, HJT and TOPCon are highly sought after by enterprises.
The advantage of HJT (intrinsic thin film heterojunction cell) is that the process is short, and there are only four steps of texturing and cleaning, amorphous silicon film deposition, TCO preparation, and electrode preparation.
From the perspective of following companies, in addition to traditional battery module companies such as Risen Energy, Akcome Technology, Zhongli Group, and Jiayu, two types of companies have attracted much attention. One is equipment companies, such as Jiejia Flextronics, GS-Solar, etc., either independently promoting the mass production of GW-scale battery modules, or working hand in hand with industry chain companies; the other is cross-border companies, such as Shanmei International, Ming Yang Smart, etc., the former set up a joint venture to build a 10GW high-efficiency heterojunction cell project, with a 3GW phase I; the latter heterojunction cell module project has started construction and is expected to be put into production within this year.
Among the “crossovers” are the representatives of central state-owned enterprises such as SDIC Power, China Resources Power, Shandong Shuifa Group, and Anhui Huasheng. Among them, the forerunners such as China Resources Power, the 12GW high-efficiency heterojunction solar cell and module manufacturing project has landed in Zhoushan, Zhejiang; Anhui Huasheng plans to build a 10GW HJT cell and module production line during the “14th Five-Year Plan” period.
The theoretical efficiency of HJT heterojunction cells can reach 27.5%. On October 28, 2021, LONGi announced that the conversion efficiency of its silicon-based heterojunction cell (HJT) has reached a world record of 26.3% after being tested by a world-recognized authoritative testing institution. In terms of mass production, Risen Energy’s financial report revealed that it has mastered the mass production technology of high-efficiency HJT cells with a conversion efficiency of up to 25.2%, and the highest mass production efficiency is 25.6%.
Regarding the prospect of large-scale commercialization of HJT heterojunction high-efficiency cells, at the online forum on “Design and Technical Solutions of Wind and Solar Base”, Song Dengyuan, Chief Technology Officer of Yidao New Energy Technology (Quzhou) Co., Ltd., introduced that HJT is essentially a thin film. Battery technology, incompatibility with existing PERC batteries, high investment cost, narrow process window due to high vacuum environment and nano-scale film thickness, low temperature silver paste technology and high cost are all current obstacles.
The ultimate efficiency of N-type TOPCon cells is 28.7%, which is higher than that of HJT, and is compatible with existing PERC production lines. Leading production expansion companies include Jolywood, Yidao New Energy, JinkoSolar, and Zhongli Group.
In addition to HJT and TOPCon, another large N-type battery technology has also attracted the attention of leading companies, namely IBC (fork-type back contact battery). Yellow River Hydropower, a subsidiary of State Power Investment Corporation, has built the first domestic IBC battery demonstration line with mass production scale. The mass production conversion efficiency reaches 24%, and the R&D conversion efficiency reaches 25.08%. Aixu, the battery leader, launched a new generation of back-contact battery ABC based on IBC technology in June 2021. Its 6.5GWABC battery mass production project in Zhuhai has been successfully started, and it is expected to be completed and put into production in the third quarter of 2022.
TOP component companies “end”
Although the mainstream status of PERC cells is still difficult to shake, but to seize the high-efficiency technology dividends in advance, many TOP module companies have been moved by the cautious attitude of previous years.
JinkoSolar took the lead. Its 2021 annual report shows that JinkoSolar took the lead in establishing an N-type TOPCon battery mass production line as early as 2019, with a capacity scale of 900MW; in November 2021, JinkoSolar launched the application of N-type TOPCon High-efficiency components of battery technology; in 2022, JinkoSolar will put into production a total of 16GW of high-efficiency N-type TOPCon battery capacity in Hefei, Anhui, and Haining, Zhejiang.
Another major module leader, Trina Solar, is also deploying an 8GW TOPCon cell project in Suqian, Jiangsu. The project was officially launched in April and is expected to be gradually put into production in the second half of the year. In addition, Trina Solar has completed the full set of certification for 210 HJT modules, and completed the preparatory work for the battery laboratory, laying the foundation for HJT technology research in the next 3 to 5 years.
Chint released new N-type modules globally on April 26, using TOPCon battery technology, including ASTRO N6 (700W+), ASTRO N5 (570W+), and ASTRO N5s (420W+), with a module efficiency of 22%+.
JA Solar was shortlisted in the 2022 bidding for N-type double-sided double-glass modules of 700MW to 1,000MW by CNNC. JA Solar’s 2021 annual report shows that the conversion efficiency of its Bycium battery (N-type battery) pilot line has reached 24.60%, and the production cost has been reduced through process improvement, and it is ready for mass production.
The mass production of TOPCon technology has accelerated. Song Dengyuan pointed out that five factors determine the arrival of the first year of TOPCon technology. First, the planned battery production capacity in 2022 is 60GW+ and the shipment volume is 10GW+; second, TOPCon can be compatible with PERC production line equipment, and the process is mature; Talent reserves and key equipment are mature; fourth, the investment cost is more economical than other N-type battery technologies, and the GW investment is about 210 million yuan; fifth, there is a lot of room for improvement in efficiency.
However, compared to other leading module companies, LONGi remains mysterious about the next-generation mass-produced high-efficiency battery technology. In the 2021 annual report, LONGi revealed that the company has independently developed new high-efficiency battery technology, formed an original battery technology route and made breakthroughs in key technical processes. It is expected to start production in the third quarter of 2022.
Previously, LONGi has successively broken multiple cell efficiency records of p-TOPCon, n-TOPCon, p-HJT, n-HJT and indium-free HJT. In its Taizhou LONGi Solar 2GW monocrystalline battery technical transformation project, it plans to use HPBC high-efficiency monocrystalline battery production lines. According to industry insiders, HPBC technology adopts IBC technology on the basis of P-type. In the multi-technology route, where will LONGi bet? The answer will be revealed in the third quarter.
Another leading module company that has taken a different approach is Risen Energy, which plans to build 5GW N-type ultra-low-carbon high-efficiency heterojunction cells in Ninghai, Zhejiang. Risen Energy is one of the earliest companies to deploy heterojunction battery modules. On March 29, Risen Energy released a new module product “Fu Xi”, which uses 210 heterojunction half-chip 120 micron + microcrystalline technology, breaking through the ultra-high efficiency of 25.2%.
Driven by many first-tier enterprises, the era of N-type mass production has officially begun.