Comparing new solar module formats


From pv magazine Global

The introduction of new wafer formats has seen the industry quickly divide into two camps promoting either the 182mm or the larger 210mm format. The smaller of the two promises significant gains in module performance without requiring a major redesign of other system components, while the larger promises even larger energy yields, but taking into account the larger size and different electrical characteristics of these modules, taking full advantage will require much more disruption in system design, shipping and elsewhere along the value chain.

This is further demonstrated in a new white paper published by Chinese module producer JA Solar, in cooperation with TÜV Nord. Early in 2021, the two set up a test field in Yinchuan, China to compare JA Solar’s DeepBlue 3.0 modules, which utilise the 182mm wafer, with others from an unnamed manufacturer utilising the 210mm format promoted by Zhonghuan Semiconductor.

Initial results from the project were published earlier this year, and now a second white paper offers results based on six months monitoring the modules in the field. The two module types are installed at a site in Yinchuan, China. According to JA Solar, this site is an arid environment with an average temperature of 8.5 Celsius degrees and up to 3000 hours of sunshine per year. Single-sided modules amounting to approximately 7 kW for each type are installed on fixed-tilt racking at a 40 degrees angle one meter above the ground. Both module sets are connected to a 20 kW inverter. The study only uses data from a DC side meter, to avoid measuring the effects of the inverter as well as the modules.

Performance comparison

Based on the operational data from February to August 2021, the project found that JA Solar’s module average daily energy yield reached 4.88 kWh per kW, placing it around 1.9% higher than the 4.77kWh/kW achieved by the 210mm modules. The data also show that on days with higher solar irradiation, from May to July in particular, the gap in average energy yield between the two module types widens to 2.5%,” the manufacturer said.

JA solar attributes the lower yield from the larger modules to issues stemming from the higher currents they produce. “Theoretically, as the internal resistance loss of 182 modules is relatively lower, differences in power generation performance of the two types of modules is caused by the difference in the internal resistance loss and its resulting difference in operating temperature,” they explain in the white paper.

Delving further into the performance data, they found that the average operating temperature of JA Solar’s module was 1.7 Celsius degrees lower than the 210mm module. “…the difference in operating temperature mainly stems from radiation intensity,” they explain. “This demonstrates that the advantage of 182 modules in power generation from May to July is from the widening gap in operating temperature between the two kinds of modules.”

The comparison test site is set to run for a full year, and JA Solar says it will publish a complete analysis of the full-year performance data.

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