From pv magazine Global
pv magazine: Trina Solar was a latecomer in the n-type TOPCon solar module business, at least in terms of product launches. However, it was a frontrunner for the development of the technology, as it built the world’s first PV project based on such panels. Has this strategy paid off?
Helena Li: We were not really late, probably only later than JinkoSolar. We had no urgency to invest immediately, as the technology’s yield plus the stability and the cost, were still not competitive until probably the last quarter of last year. Longi also started to announce moving towards n-TOPCon reluctantly this year. It’s because everybody is waiting for the maturity of the production equipment. So we see now that equipment is okay, and then the wafer can go at least 10 µm thinner, which can be a great cost-saving for n-type TOPCon to compete with p-type PERC.
How much TOPCon capacity will Trina Solar have at the end of 2023?
We expect to reach a TOPCon cell capacity of over 40 GW this year. Work on Phase II of our 15 GW monocrystalline silicon ingot project for n-type products at its factory in Xining, Qinghai province, has begun. Work has also begun on its 10 GW n-type high-efficiency cell and 10 GW n-type module project in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, which will be put into production in the first half of 2024.
Is Trina Solar considering other technologies, such as heterojunction, interdigitated back contact (IBC), or eventually perovskite-silicon tandem?
Yes, we are considering new developments, although probably n-type TOPCon would last longer than people are thinking, because HJT itself may not be the best solution from what we are seeing. We find more interesting perovskite silicon tandem technologies and we are currently seeking to reach module efficiencies of over 28% with our R&D department. Mass production, however, may need time.
Do you expect oversupply and consolidation to come, given the current expansion plans of most manufacturers?
Oversupply is a natural challenge to our industry. Whoever is stronger will get stronger and stronger every year. And with the complexity now with technology and with the supply chain, and with this geopolitical situation, consolidation is inevitable. We will see cost and price drops because that’s where we want to go. We are now seeing many new players, some are not from solar, jumping in. So I think it’s also challenging and interesting to see you have to always survive, whoever is coming. So I don’t think it’s an issue.
Does Trina Solar plan to start production overseas?
We are actually actively working with our European customers and partners to build a factory there, but we would move forward only if a project can be competitive. Of course, it will be important for us to know whether we may receive support from the EU or local governments. On the other hand, many European customers are telling us they want traceability. When we then tell them they should pay a bit more for these premium products, they say they will think about it and others disappear. As I said, much will depend on the competitiveness of a European factory.
Would it be possible investing in EU or US solar manufacturing without incentives?
No, not without the incentives.
Which markets will drive solar growth in 2023?
China will be, again the largest market. I just heard S&P is predicting solar demand may exceed 136 GW in China this year. This growth should be partly driven by new public tenders for utility scale PV, but we also expect strong growth in the distributed generation segment.
Which emerging markets might perform particularly well for Trina Solar this year?
The development of renewable energy has been accelerated by the global energy transition. The global PV industry will be full of challenges and opportunities in 2023. Looking further into the future, Trina Solar predicts that the global newly installed capacity may reach 1,344 GW in 2035, which is about five times higher than in 2022. Trina Solar value customers in each market segment. We have scenario-based solutions for both p-type and n-type products for residential, C&I, and large scale power plants. Trina Solar is positioned as the leading smart energy total solutions provider, consisting of smart solutions for tracker, energy storage and multi-energy systems. That will help each market.
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