TOPCon dominates REI 2023 show

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The Renewable Energy India Expo 2023, held last week in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, was way bigger and crowded than last year’s. Expo organizers confirmed to pv magazine that the show recorded 621 exhibitors and 43,182 trade visitors. The numbers exclude the Battery Show India, which was co-located with REI Expo 2023 for the first time in India and showcased over 200 brands to more than 8,000 visitors.

Majority of the solar PV manufacturers showcased their offerings in the latest n-type technologies. As we navigated the packed exhibition floors, it was clear that n-type TOPCon is going to take the driver’s seat for the Indian PV manufacturing sector.

“Currently, n-type TOPCon modules cost INR 1-2/W more than mono PERC, but as the technology advances, their price is bound to come down. Also, TOPCon allows for BOS cost savings of up to 3.26% while offering up to 5% increase in power output. So, if you consider all these factors, the user is going to benefit from the use of TOPCon,” Shubhra Mohanka, director at Gautam Solar, told pv magazine.

Syncing with the shift

All major module manufacturers in India are embracing the shift from p-type to n-type technology, with TOPCon as their preferred choice.

“Many of the leading cell manufacturers in China have already started producing TOPCon cells. This development is expected to narrow the price gap between M10 p-type and TOPCon technologies by the end of 2023 or early 2024,” said Vikas Arya, AVP-product strategy & marketing, Solar Product Business, Jakson Group.

Mono PERC manufacturers looking to sync with TOPCon demand can modify/upgrade their existing mono PERC lines for TOPCon production due to the change in the number of busbars from ten busbars (10 BB) in p-type to 16 BB in TOPCon.

Arya said certain cell manufacturers in China are providing TOPCon cells with 10BB configuration, making it more cost-effective to adapt the existing 10BB mono PERC lines in the short term.

“It is essential to plan for the upgrade of machines from 10BB to 16BB in collaboration with machine suppliers, ensuring preparedness as the market transitions from mono PERC to TOPCon technology in 2024-25,” Arya said.

A Pixon representative added if Indian manufacturers do not upgrade their production lines to adopt advanced technologies such as TOPCon, they may lose the opportunity to emerge as a viable alternative.

Bharat Bhut, co-founder and director of Goldi Solar, said, “After three months, more than 50% of the module production globally will adopt TOPCon. Going with the flow, Goldi Solar is expanding its TOPCon-ready PV module capacity to 4 GW with the addition of 1 GW of new production lines.”

As regards HJT, most manufacturers were of the view that HJT adoption might take a bit longer [than TOPCon] due to its more complex manufacturing process and higher costs.

“The efficiency of TOPCon modules is somewhere around 24.5%, whereas HJT offers 24.5-25%. There is only half a per cent difference in efficiency between the two technologies but the costs involved with HJT is very high,” said Bhut.

Adani, which aims for 10 GW of MG silica-to-PV module manufacturing capacity by 2027 in India, showcased its Elan Shine series of bifacial TOPCon modules with up to 22.4% efficiency. Among other leading players, Waaree showcased both TOPCon and HJT products at the show. These included a 715 Wp dual-glass bifacial HJT solar module and a 720 Wp TOPCon panel.

“The overall trend in Indian PV manufacturing has been shifting away from polycrystalline to monocrystalline solar modules, especially considering the fact that ALMM limits on minimum solar module efficiency mean even small project developers are shifting to monocrystalline modules. In monocrystalline module technologies, n-type TOPCon has seen a significant uptake recently with many significant players [including us] showcasing n-type TOPCon modules at REI 2023. These modules provide greater efficiencies than mono PERC modules, which still remains the most preferred technology. But this will gradually change in the near future as many manufacturers are increasing their manufacturing capacity to increase the production of n-type TOPCon modules to meet the growing market demand,” said Gautam Mohanka, CEO of Gautam Solar.

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