Asia Held 92% Share in Global PV Module Production in 2020: Report

Highlights :

  • The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, supported by PSE Projects GmbH, has been publishing the Photovoltaics Report on a regular basis for the past decade.
  • The study shows that Asia’s share in global PV module production increased from 82% in 2010 to 92% in 2020, causing the annual production to rise by a factor of 7 in this decade.

The recently published Photovoltaics Report, produced under Dr. Simon Philipps (Fraunhofer ISE) and Werner Warmuth (PSE Projects GmbH), explores key details about the photovoltaics manufacturing sector at the end of 2020 in Germany, the European Union and worldwide, including Asia.

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The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, supported by PSE Projects GmbH, has been publishing the PV Report on a regular basis for the past decade. It documents, in particular, the development of the photovoltaic market, solar cell and module efficiency as well as the prices over the last decades.

The study shows that Asia’s share in global PV module production increased from 82% in 2010 to 92% in 2020, causing the annual production to rise by a factor of 7 in this decade. The key findings of the latest edition of the report are as follows:

PV Market:

  • Global: Photovoltaics is a fast-growing market. The Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of cumulative PV installations including off-grid was 34% between year 2010 to 2020. In the year 2020, producers from Asia accounted for 95% of total c-Si PV module production. China (mainland) holds the lead with a share of 67%. Europe contributed with a share of 3%; USA/CAN with 2%. In 2020, Europe’s contribution to the total cumulative PV installations amounted to 22% (compared to 24% in 2019). In contrast, installations in China accounted for 33%.
  • Germany: In the year 2020, Germany accounted for about 7.6% (53.6 GWp) of the cumulative PV capacity installed worldwide (707.5 GWp) with about 2 million PV systems installed in Germany. In 2020 the newly installed capacity in Germany was about 5 GWp; in 2019 it was 4 GWp. PV covered 9.2% of Germany’s gross electricity demand in 2020 while all renewable sources delivered about 45%.

Solar Cell/Module Efficiencies:

  • The record lab cell efficiency is 26.7% for mono-crystalline and 24.4% for multi-crystalline silicon wafer-based technology.
  • The highest lab efficiency in thin film technology is 23.4% for CIGS and 21.0% for CdTe solar cells. Record lab cell efficiency for Perovskite is 25.5%.
  • In the last 10 years, the efficiency of average commercial wafer-based silicon modules increased from about 15% to 20%. At the same time, CdTe module efficiency increased from 9% to 19%.
  • In the laboratory, best performing modules are based on mono-crystalline silicon with 24.4% efficiency. Record efficiencies demonstrate the potential for further efficiency increases at the production level.
  • In the laboratory, high concentration multi-junction solar cells achieve an efficiency of up to 47.1% today. With concentrator technology, module efficiencies of up to 38.9% have been reached.

Energy Payback Time:

  • Material usage for silicon cells has been reduced significantly during the last 16 years from around 16 g/Wp to about 3 g/Wp due to increased efficiencies, thinner wafers and diamond wire sawing as well as larger ingots.
  • The Energy Payback Time of PV systems is dependent on the geographical location: PV systems in Northern Europe need around 1.2 years to balance the input energy, while PV systems in the South equal their energy input after 1 year and less, depending on the technology installed and the grid efficiency.
  • A PV system located in Sicily with wafer-based Silicon modules has an Energy Payback Time of around one year. Assuming 20 years lifespan, this kind of system can produce twenty times the energy needed to produce it.

Inverters:

  • Inverter efficiency for state-of-the art brand products is 98% and higher.
  • The market share of string inverters is estimated to be 64%. These inverters are mostly used in residential, small and medium commercial applications in PV systems up to 150 kWp. The market share of central inverters, with applications mostly in large commercial and utility-scale systems, is about 34%. A small proportion of the market (about 1%) belongs to micro-inverters (used on the module level). The market share for DC / DC converters, also called “power optimizers”, is estimated to be 5% of the total inverter market.
  • Trends: Digitalisation, Repowering, new features for grid stabilization and optimization of self- consumption; storage; utilization of innovative semiconductors (SiC or GaN) which allow very high efficiencies and compact designs; 1500 V maximum DC string voltage.

Price Development:

  • In Germany prices for a typical 10 to 100 kWp PV rooftop-system were around 14,000 €/kWp in 1990. At the end of 2020, such systems cost only 7.4% of the price in 1990. This is a net-price regression of about 92% over a period of 30 years.
  • The Experience Curve – also called Learning Curve – shows that in the last 40 years the module price decreased by 26% with each doubling of the cumulated module production. Cost reduction results from economies of scale and technological improvements.

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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.

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