Monocrystalline is catching up to Multicrystalline technology
Monocrystalline silicon panels have long played the little brother role to multicrystalline solar panels, as their higher costs made consumers prefer multicrystalline solar panels. While monocrystalline solar panels have higher efficiency, their prices are higher. The biggest mono producers such as SunPower and Panasonic have also positioned themselves as premium producers, which has further restricted their appeal to niche segments. Now monocrystalline technology is starting to catch up with multicrystalline, as some major Chinese mono wafer producers such as Longi are sharply reducing the costs of producing mono wafers. In fact, Longi has such strong belief in the mono silicon technology that it has completely abandoned multi technology, even for its subsidiary Leri. The company is aggressively building out not only mono wafer capacity but also cells and modules based on the mono technology, as it believes that the cost per watt of mono silicon panels will become cheaper than multi by 2017.
The company is citing the faster decline in mono wafer costs as compared to multi wafers and is betting the farm on this trend. The company has already tied up finance to build a new 2000 MW capacity by 2016 in the cells and modules segment. This is one of the biggest expansions in the cell and module space in recent times. The company has a target of 6 GW of cell and module capacity by 2020, with a much larger wafer capacity. The company makes decent margins in its solar business and plans to expand operations in other countries as well.
Note most solar companies are going through tough times, despite the stability in margins. The huge debt load built up in earlier times is crimping their ability to expand. Yingli Energy is in fact contracting as its debt burden becomes almost impossible to bear. Newer companies can take advantage to become the new leaders. Solar demand will keep increasing in the double digits for a long time, due to falling costs. It remains to be seen whether Longi can be successful based on its manufacturing and technology roadmap. Rapid changes in the solar industry have killed many companies in the solar sector in recent times. It is difficult to predict what will happen over the next year, given the rapid change in the macro and micro conditions. Leaders of yesteryears such as Q-Cells and Suntech do not exist anymore.
Performance costs for PV modules made of PERC (passivated emitter and rear cell) monocrystalline silicon solar cells will be lower than those for PV modules made of PERC polycrystalline ones in 2017, according to president Li Zhenguo for China-based solar-grade mono-Si wafer maker Xi’an LONGi Silicon Materials. While prices for polysilicon have remained stably at US$15/kg since 2013, prices for solar-grade poly-Si wafers have also stayed at about US$0.82 but those for mono-Si ones have dropped from US$1.15 in 2013 to US$0.94 currently, Li said during PV Taiwan 2015. The three-day event runs till October 16
Source – DigiTimesGoogle+