Back contact solar beats mono PERC at lifetime energy generation

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From pv magazine Global

A new white paper from research and consulting firm Exawatt examines and contrasts key module parameters across various technologies to assess the potential value these technologies may offer for residential and commercial applications. The white paper, authored by Molly Morgan and Alex Barrows of Exawatt, draws on analyses from the company’s Solar Technology and Cost Service.

The paper reveals that, in the modelling performed, back contact (xBC), heterojunction (HJT), and tunnel oxide passivated contact (TOPCon) technologies may exhibit meaningful improvements in lifetime energy generation compared to mono passivated emitter rear contact (PERC) technologies. Through detailed modelling exercises, the document evaluates how xBC, HJT, and TOPCon contribute to increased clean energy generation and potential financial savings depending on specific system parameters.

In both residential and commercial system modelling scenarios, the authors found that xBC stands out as the top performer, showing an average increase of 16.0% over mono PERC, while HJT and TOPCon offer generation gains of 11.4% and 8.2%, respectively.

Percentage gain in energy generation in key European countries by technology, in comparison to mono PERC (Residential – 5 kWp). Data: CRU/Exawatt. Note: The percentage increase in lifetime energy generation is modelled using a system with a 30-year lifetime. Energy generation gain is presented for xBC, TOPCon, and HJT technologies in comparison to mono PERC – xBC provides the greatest gain in energy generation across all locations modeled.

Furthermore, the white paper delves into the profitability of residential and commercial installations through assessments of payback time and levelized cost of electricity (LCOE). Despite their premium pricing, xBC, HJT, and TOPCon technologies demonstrate enhanced profitability in both modelling scenarios in comparison to the previously mainstream mono PERC. Among these technologies, xBC emerges as the frontrunner, boasting an average 9.7% shorter payback time and 10.7% lower LCOE across all modelled locations.

Savings in payback time in key European countries in comparison to mono PERC (residential 5 kWp). Data: CRU/Exawatt. Note: The payback time is modelled using a system with a 30-year lifetime. xBC provides the greatest savings in payback time across all locations modelled.
Savings in LCOE in key EU countries compared to mono PERC (C&I – 150 kWp). Data: CRU/Exawatt. Note: The LCOE is modelled using a system with a 30-year lifetime. xBC provides the greatest savings in LCOE across all locations modelled.Image: Exawatt

While small cost reductions may still be achieved in the current PV industry, the white paper outlines that these are relatively minor in comparison to the potential efficiency gains offered by advanced technologies. High module efficiency is key to driving down system cost-per-watt, payback time, and LCOE, since it can drive down the per-watt costs of many key non-module costs such as labor and mounting.

The white paper underscores the importance for distributors, installers, and system owners to grasp the value proposition of high-performance technologies for informed decision-making on which technology has the greatest value for a specific application.

The authors conclude that as the industry continues to prioritize performance improvements over cost reductions, embracing high-performance PV technologies can pave the way for enhanced efficiency, cost savings, and sustainable energy solutions.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect those held by pv magazine.

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