With travel restricted, many missed the opportunity to attend the world’s biggest solar trade show, the SNEC, in Shanghai. The event took place on August 8-10 and was a largely “all Chinese” affair. pv magazine’s Vincent Shaw and Calvin Chong were on site and spoke to key supplier’s about their business strategies and technologies.
From pv magazine Global.
pv magazine: Mr. Liu, thank you for your acceptance of this interview. First of all, could you please give an introduction to our readers of what new products and solutions Jolywood is showcasing at this SNEC show?
Liu Zhifeng: At this year’s SNEC exhibition, Jolywood is launching our latest generation of Niwa series super power PV modules. This series contains three products, the Niwa Super, Niwa Pro and Niwa Black. With the latest TOPCon technology, the maximum power output approaches 615 W with conversion rates reaching 22.1%. You can see the crowds coming to our booth for the new products release and we also did an online release synchronised with the activity at our booth for global audiences.f
So what are the differences between these three products?
They have clear but different market positioning. The Niwa Super utilises 182mm wafers and features a power output up to 570 and 615 W with two layouts. The products are pursuing the lowest levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) and very suitable for large scale utility PV plant. Of the two, the 570 W is more suitable for fixed rack system and 615 W is fit for tracker system. With the natural features of TOPCon technologies like high stability, low LID and PID free, both products will greatly reduce the balance of system (BOS) of the PV plant.
The Niwa Pro module uses 166mm wafers and has a power rating of 460 W. It targets the mainstream C&I PV station, which requires lighter weight of module. And the Niwa Black is aiming for the residential market. As the name indicates, the all black module looks very beautiful and would attract customers’ attentions in European and Japan markets. The module conversion rate of Niwa Black is still high at 20.7%.
What is the market reaction to the new products?
We got a hot response at SNEC. This morning when the new products release occurred, it was so crowded here that I just couldn’t get through the booth. Our important guests included those from five major national energy groups including the State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC) and Huaneng came through and viewed our new products. They were impressed with our Niwa series modules and expressed the purchasing intentions for their future projects.
Also we had an online live release at the same time to our global customers which could not come and participate in SNEC due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of our customers, especially those in the Middle East, were also excited because the TOPCon modules are especially suitable for long-term stable service in extremely hot regions like the Middle East. This is a unique advantage over other competitor modules.
What is the marketing strategy for Jolywood to overseas markets?
In 2019, we still have not so large module production capacity and our major part of cell consumption was from top-ranked Chinese module makers. However, the sales of cell products was inside China, while our modules with our cells were shipped to overseas markets like Brazil. Meanwhile we had around 300 MW module shipments to Europe and the Middle East and the rest was consumed in the domestic mainland China market.
We were aiming those markets with higher BOS and can stand higher cost because of the current condition of TOPCon technology. But we did quite well in some new emerging markets. When our customers of developed markets like Europe and China tried to enter these new markets sometimes they will choose our products for their plants because of our quality and specifications.
So how did the COVID-19 pandemic affect Jolywood’s business?
I think we were influenced slightly by the pandemic since February. Major PV projects suffered delay in Europe and we saw a significant market decline. And distributed PV still moved forward. Because we were still in a low profile in EU, we felt not big influence. Our biggest market was in the Middle East, which I think was least affected by the pandemic. Therefore the COVID-19 impact was limited.
The bifacial type is replacing conventional modules, what do you think about this trend?
From current situation, the replacement is happening and faster than expected. But one factor lies as obstacle for the replacement is the weight of the module. In some markets the bifacial module was refused because of mandatory weight limits by law. But the bifacial module is definitely a trend because of the higher power generation and following lower BOS and LCOE. For Jolywood, our TOPCon cell naturally is for bifacial and we choose transparent backsheet rather than glass to reduce module weight to meet the specific requirements.
Would you please clarify to our readers why Jolywood chose TOPCon and what are the advantages compared with others?
Since the potential for PERC to increase conversion is so small, the industry has turned to new cell technologies, which are mostly based on the N-type cell. Among the three major routes, TOPCon, HJT and IBC, most people will abandon the IBC because of the unbearable high cost. Now let’s compare the other two. TOPCON can be well compatible with the current production process, and its potential efficiency is 28.7%, which is closest to the theoretical limit efficiency of 29.43% of crystalline silicon solar cells. In short, the efficiency of TOPCON cells can be greatly improved at a lower cost investment.
Logically there are several advantages with HJT and some of China manufacturers invested in this route, but after years of efforts there was not much capacity built and commissioned for production. Why? The cost is still high and unacceptable to customers. For Jolywood, we had 1 GW shipment of TOPCon modules in 2019, and it will be 2 GW in 2020. Customer’s choice has driven the result.
Is there any difficulty for the development of TOPCon?
There are still some difficulties with supply chains including the equipment and material. But Jolywood did a lot of work on R&D of the equipment and we have reduced the line investment to around CNY180-200 million per GW, only 10-15% higher than PERC line. I believe there will be more and more companies joining us in the future.
What are the production capacities of solar cells and modules of Jolywood? Does Jolywood have any expansion plan?
By end of 2020, we have around 2.1 GW of TOPCon cell and 2 GW for module. The productivity is 100%. We are planning for expansion new lines of 182mm wafer and will decide in H2. The expansion will be on GW level and more than 1, should be 2 or 3 GW.
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