12th ITRPV Report: Lower PV Prices, Larger Wafer Formats, and more..

The 12th edition of the annual International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaic (ITRPV) report was released yesterday by Frankfurt-headquartered German engineering association the VDMA (Verbandes Deutsche Maschinen- und Anlagenbau). Drawing on insights provided by 56 international experts along the PV value chain, the report examines contemporary trends permeating the PV technology industry and speculates about the way forward.

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The report states that in 2020, 135 GW of photovoltaic capacity was installed worldwide for power generation, so that the cumulative PV capacity significantly exceeds 700 GW. For several decades, the analogous trend to the general concept of an experience curve has been observed. This shows that each doubling of cumulative PV module capacity installation is associated with a price reduction of 23.8 precent. Based on recent results, the report argues, the trend is expected to continue along this experience curve over the next several years. This will be realised through a combination of several measures: improved and larger silicon wafers, implementation of cell perfections, optimised cell fronts and backs, refined layouts, the introduction of bifacial cell concepts, and optimised cell and module technologies.

Throwing light on new formats, the report observes that a strong trend towards larger wafers and also larger modules is becoming obvious. The smaller wafer formats of 156.75² mm² and 158.75² mm² will disappear in favour of larger formats within the next four years. Currently, the focus is on the formats of 166.0² mm² (M6), 182.0² mm² (M10) and 210.0² mm² (M12). The market share of the current mainstream format M6 is expected to drop from 34 percent in 2021 to 5 percent in 2031, while M10 and M12 will lead with 42 percent each. These significantly larger wafer formats will also result in larger modules, both in rooftop and in power plant applications. In rooftop applications, modules smaller than 1.8 m² have a market share of 83 percent. The limitation in terms of module area can be attributed, among other things, to manual installation. In power plant applications, 25 percent of modules are currently larger than 2.2 m², with this share expected to increase to over 90 percent in 2031. It is also expected that 16 percent of modules will be larger than 3 m².

The study predicts that market share of monocrystalline silicon wafers (mono-Si) will be nearly 80 percent in 2021 and is expected to grow further. The share of higher-quality n-type material will increase from the current 10 percent to about 50 percent in ten years. Influenced by this, the expected trend for product warranty is to increase to 15 years and performance warranty is to increase to 30 years. Degradation after the first year of operation will decrease to one percent.

On the question of cell technologies, the report highlights that PERC cell technology with its high-efficiency variants was the dominant technology in 2020 with a market share of 80 percent. Combined with the implementation of half-cell modules and larger module formats, modules with more than 600 W were established in the market. PERC cell technology is expected to remain dominant with a 70 percent market share in 2031. Silicon heterojunction technology (HJT) is expected to achieve a 17 percent market share, while other high efficiency technologies, such as integrated back-contact and tandem technology, follow with 5 percent each.

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Soumya Duggal

Soumya is a master's degree holder in English, with a passion for writing. It's an interest she has directed towards environmental writing recently, with a special emphasis on the progress being made in renewable energy.