There was no SNEC before where people saw so great eagerness for higher efficiency. No SNEC before where people felt so close to breakthrough of some lingering technology. An outline of Moore’s Law is emerging in PV industry, with increasingly strong signs:
1, Cyclical, almost endless progress of technology development and iteration.
2, Almost endless progress of cost reduction, and race still at full speed.
3, Rapid expansion of both capacity and demand in past years, and for many years to come.
Looking to the two camps, multi has made significant progress in efficiency improvement in past years. Combined with initial cost advantage, it’s won large market share since first came to market around 2008. The efficiency development came equally from two factors, one was great improvement of crystal quality, the other process evolution at cell lines. Huge capacity of multi process line and most top PV makers being multi focused led to environment where multi tech most lively and supply chain effective.
In comparison, mono technology made less improvement in efficiency than cost in part years. But mono makers were sharp to see where the gap was. The strategy astute and impact significant. Upon completion of D/W transition in 2016, mono’s winning back lost ground.
No leading position is secured in long race. Clearly the competition has entered a new stage where the two camps seem to have swapped strategic priority. Multi has to cut cost to maintain its price advantage, with which it’s certainly got large room to maneuver. Mono is now faced with great opportunity to improve efficiency, as numerous high efficiency techniques in cell and module process have been well established in multi chain.
At this stage, it’s far from reaching conclusion the technology currently gaining market is better than the other(s). Market itself makes the call to change position. Multi is paying, with great pain, for it crazy expansion over past years. Mono is likely repeating the story, as reported by end 2017 mono capacity would reach 35GW worldwide.
Relentless pursuit of high efficiency process is leading to low tech cell/module factories pushed out with increasing speed. Regardless expansion, market always remains hungry for anything high efficiency and low cost. After all, ultimate factors are LCOE and ROI. Any new investment of manufacture without elaborate measures addressing the two respects (efficiency and cost) would be considered highly risky (if not stupid) and doomed to go down the drain.
Author:Xiaodong(Bond) Wang Former Director Int'l Business Development
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