The year 2018 was projected to be one of the best years for the PV market and it lived up to this projection in the beginning of the year. But, due to the China 531 policy and tariff announcements, the market situation changed quickly. At the moment, the market is in recovery mode and we expect PV market to be back on growth trajectory from 2019 onwards. Also, on the positive side, 2018 brought in and cemented some technology trends. Driven by the strong need for high efficiency technology and low prices, mono wafers started to take over market share from multi.
The market share for mono wafers grew throughout the year in 2018 and will continue in 2019. Wafer prices have dropped dramatically, in particular for mono, and are currently at $0.37/wafer. There have been several capacity expansions announced for mono, notably LONGi announcing plans for 45GW by 2020. The need for high efficiency cells also drove the requirement of mono wafers and the market share swiftly increased from 37% to 52% through 2018 and we expect that trend to continue in 2019.
At the cell level, mono p-PERC currently dominates the market. The relative ease in processing and the modest addition to cell processing required for manufacturing these cells combined with the high efficiency potential were the main reasons for this rapid growth. Heraeus’ industry leading SOL9651 family of silver metallization pastes enable higher efficiency for PERC cells. In 2019, we expect that passivated contacts, TOPCon (Tunnel Oxide Passivated Contacts) technology to gain momentum.TOPCon greatly reduces the recombination losses and significantly improves the Voc of the cell. We have already seen large scale implementation of this technology on n-type cells. Heraeus’ SOL7100 series of screen print pastes enable lower firing temperatures in order to reduce the impact of metal induced recombination, and maintain high cell Voc while also providing excellent contact resistance, thereby resulting in very high efficiency TOPCon cells. We expect that TOPCon technology will be a natural progression for p-type cells, thus enabling higher efficiency over PERC technology and bifacial modules.
At the module level, shingled modules will start to become more main stream in 2019. Shingling provides more active cell area in the module and reduces the cell-to-module conversion losses. Another advantage of Shingled modules is that they can be made using multiple cell technologies including mono or multi p-type, PERC, Bifacial, Heterojunction, etc. Heraeus has developed an Electrically Conductive Adhesive (ECA), Hecaro®, which is a reliable, cost-effective, fast curing and screen printable material that also enables shingled modules. We expect Hecaro® to lead the market in 2019.