Sunday read: N-type cell development


From pv magazine 06/2021

It is estimated that by the end of 2021 there will be around 400 GW of mono PERC capacity, doubling the 2020 volume. There will be at least 280 GW of cell capacity, calculating 182 mm and 210 mm cells only. Amid the serious capacity surplus, Tier-1 cell manufacturers could only keep slim profits in the first quarter, with only 1-3% of profit left for mono PERC cells.

Demand growth

PV manufacturers have not changed their target markets. Chinese n-type TOPCon manufacturers mainly target utility-scale projects, but the power output of modules assembled with large p-PERC cells has reached beyond 500 W, outshining n-type, despite its efficiency advantage. Silver prices remain high, hindering the development of HJT cells with higher silver paste consumption. This means slower demand for n-type products.

Non-China n-type module manufacturers, on the other hand, focus on residential and C&I rooftop projects. Outside China, Panasonic withdrew from solar and Maxeon announced PERC cell capacity expansion plans. In a competitive cell market, foreign manufacturers also began to develop strategies for the future. Mature markets including Europe, the U.S., and Japan, where demand is rather stable, will remain the major overseas markets.

The large-scale capacity expansion and economies of scale of p-PERC makes it difficult for n-type to compete. With the rising cost of raw materials and sluggish demand, n-type cell production declines to around 6 GW, and market share slips from 5% in 2020 to 4% this year.

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