China to impose stricter requirements on PV manufacturing

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China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has submitted a revision of the “Photovoltaic Manufacturing Industry Normative Conditions” policy for public consultation.

The policy outlines requirements for new construction and expansion projects in all PV manufacturing segments, including polysilicon, ingots, wafers, solar cells, modules, and inverters.

The requirements cover investment sourcing ratios, production layout, technological processes, energy consumption, resource utilization, smart and green manufacturing, environmental protection, quality management, intellectual property protection, and occupational safety.

Initially issued by MIIT in 2013, additional revisions followed in 2015, 2018, and 2021.

One key amendment increases the minimum capital ratio for new construction and expansion projects in the photovoltaic sector to 30%. Previously, this requirement was 30% for polysilicon manufacturing projects and 20% for other photovoltaic manufacturing projects.

Industry analysts said this adjustment is a measure to curb investment impulses due to overcapacity concerns in the PV industry, reducing corporate debt and leveraging ratios.

The revised standards also enhance efficiency requirements for solar cells and modules. Existing capacity must achieve photoelectric conversion efficiencies of no less than 21.4%, 23.2%, and 25% for multicrystalline silicon cells, p-type monocrystalline silicon cells, and n-type monocrystalline silicon cells, respectively. Efficiency requirements for multicrystalline silicon modules, p-type monocrystalline silicon modules, and n-type monocrystalline silicon modules are set at no less than 19.4%, 21.2%, and 22.3%.

In contrast, the 2021 version set the efficiency requirements at no less than 19% for multicrystalline silicon cells and 22.5% for monocrystalline silicon cells, and no less than 17% and 19.6% for multicrystalline silicon modules and monocrystalline silicon modules, respectively.

The revised document also raises requirements for degradation rates of photovoltaic modules and electricity cost levels for photovoltaic manufacturing projects. For instance, degradation rates for p-type crystalline silicon modules are not to exceed 2% in the first year, with subsequent annual rates not exceeding 0.55%, and a cumulative 15% over 25 years. Similarly, n-type crystalline silicon modules are capped at 1% in the first year, 0.4% annually thereafter, and 11% over 25 years. Additionally, the average comprehensive electricity consumption for cell projects should be less than 50,000 kWh/MW, and less than 70,000 kWh/MW for module projects.

Energy consumption standards have also been adjusted downward across multiple production stages, including polysilicon, ingots, wafers, crystalline silicon cells, and modules. Previous requirements specified a reduction in specific energy consumption to below 60 kWh/kg for existing polysilicon projects and comprehensive energy consumption to below 80 kWh/kg. Under the new standards, these figures have been adjusted to 46 kWh/kg and 60 kWh/kg, respectively, for existing projects, and 44 kWh/kg and 57 kWh/kg for new construction and expansion projects.

The new standards also raise water consumption requirements in photovoltaic manufacturing projects. For example, the water recycling rate for polysilicon projects has been adjusted from a minimum of 95% to 98%, and water consumption for wafer projects should be less than 900 tons per million pieces, down from the previous requirement of 1300 tons per million pieces.

Industry observers said these higher standards will facilitate the elimination of outdated production capacities.

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