Longi's ground-breaking solar cells will "take years" to reduce electricity bills

Beijing: Longyi Green Energy Technology, the world's largest producer of solar panels, made headlines last week when it announced it had broken another world record for a product's energy conversion efficiency.

While this news is exciting for scientists and engineers, analysts say it will take years to translate this achievement into lower electricity bills for consumers and boost global efforts to reduce energy production and combat climate change.

"This is truly a great achievement, taking industry progress to the next level," said Karl Melkonyan, senior solar and clean energy technology analyst at financial information provider S&P Global. "The next important factor, however, is stabilizing production costs at a viable level for commercialization."

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Although Longhi can produce solar cells on a single production line with a capacity of several hundred megawatts, he estimates that it will take one to two years to scale up production and reduce costs. A solar panel is a collection of solar cells mounted in a frame.

According to Melkonyan, the groundbreaking efficiency built-in heterojunction technology (HJT) should be cost competitive with the leading passive emitter and rear contact (PERC) and emerging tunnel oxide passivated contacts (TOPCon) technologies.

According to the International Energy Agency, renewable energy, primarily solar and wind, will meet more than 70% of China's additional electricity demand over the next three years as the country aims to peak coal consumption by 2025 and peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. I want to help. Combating global warming.

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Longhi's HJT silicon solar cells have achieved a 26.81 percent efficiency rate in converting sunlight into electricity, according to a statement released last Saturday, citing the latest certification report from Germany's Institute for Solar Energy Research in Hamelin. .

According to Longhi, in just one month, its research and development team broke the world record three times, increasing efficiency from 26.74 to 26.81 percent.

Japan's Kaneka had set the previous record of 26.63 per cent in 2017.
Longhi's achievement will be included in the next edition of efficiency tables tracking industry progress, according to the Shanghai-listed firm, which cited Michael Green, known as the "father of photovoltaics", as It has been said in the record – the ceremony of breaking.

For 30 of the past 39 years, a professor at Australia's University of New South Wales set the record for silicon solar cell efficiency.
The PERC solar cell he invented in 1983 accounted for 91.2 percent of all global silicon solar panels produced last year, according to the China Photovoltaic Industry Association.

After the cells are assembled into panels, their conversion efficiency drops by 2 to 3 percentage points.
This means future HJT panels will have efficiencies of around 23%, compared to the 20-21% being enjoyed by panels on the market today, according to Melkonyan.

They estimated that for every percentage point of efficiency improvement, the cost of electricity generation could be reduced by about 3%.

While more efficient modules are more expensive and will increase the cost of upfront infrastructure, he said the savings on transportation, installation, operation and maintenance could more than offset this.

However, future cost savings are difficult to estimate because the manufacture of solar components consumes a lot of electricity, according to Frank Hogwitz, founder of Asia Europe Clean Energy (Solar) Advisory, which became more so after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. has become expensive.

He added that the higher prices of materials used to manufacture solar generation systems, such as aluminum used in support structures and ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) to seal solar cells in panels, also impacted costs.

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He anticipates that HJT panels will begin to gain significant market share in 2024. "This means that the general public will have to wait a while before such modules become available," he explained. "Once you get past 1,000 megawatts [of output], you get a sense of the mass."

"Given that this is a fairly competitive industry, a large-scale transition from workhorses such as PERC to HJT will probably take two to four years."

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