Gloomy demand outlook for M6 modules
At the Energy Taiwan this year, manufacturers all exhibited cells featuring at least 166mm (M6) of size, showcasing their determination in developing large format products.
Manufacturers are set to upgrade 158.75mm (G1) production lines to produce M6 products. Acquisition of Voluntary Product Certification (VPC) is in progress among M6 module makers, and most of them will be certified by mid-2022. Factoring in increasing demand resulted from additional FIT subsidy during October and December, remaining G1 orders to be delivered next year, and the pace and capital invested in line modifications, M6 products will not enter mass production until mid-2022; size transition will accelerate in the second half.
Gearing up for large format products
Besides M6 products, some manufacturers displayed larger modules, such as 182mm (M10) and 210mm (G12). TSEC, Gintung, URE, and Win Win exhibited M10 products, with TSEC being the only manufacturer presenting G12 products. This indicates manufacturers’ preference for M10 products when building new lines or modifying existing lines, once demand switches towards large format products in Taiwan.
Still, Taiwan lags behind other countries in size transition, given capital invested for line modifications and end user acceptance. By now, M10 and larger modules can acquire VPC at their earliest in the second half of 2022. Putting end user acceptance for large format products and capital expenditure of manufacturers into consideration, Taiwanese module makers are only expected to mass produce large format modules after 2023.
TSEC 60-cell 605 W 12BB+HC, G12 bifacial module
Gintung 60-cell 450 W 10BB+HC, modules with M10 cells
N-type cell-based products remain minority
PERC cells continued to be mainstream for Taiwanese module makers, most of whom have no plan to adopt n-type cells. Only Motech showcased modules comprising M6 TOPCon cells, which is expected to be one of the company’s key products in the future. Motech, which expects to acquire VPC for TOPCon modules by this coming June and has arranged 200 MW of production capacity that shall enter mass production by the second half next year, will become the sole local TOPCon module supplier in Taiwan.
Motech M6 TOPCon cell-based 60-cell 9BB bifacial modules
Special specs for various demands
Besides conventional modules, this year saw products tailor-made for different application scenarios, such as building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) modules presented by AUO and Eterbright.
AUO introduced the M6 cell-based BIPV module that is integrated with corrugated sheets. Such module is not only substitute for original corrugated sheets, but, with thermal insulation design, brings down indoor temperature effectively. The product is expected to acquire VPC by June 2022. Meanwhile, in response to the outdoor activity trend, AUO launched the flexible light-weight vehicle attached PV (VAPV) module, which is applicable for various outdoor settings.
AUO’s BIPV and VAVP modules
Eterbright has been one of the few thin-film module suppliers around the world, since Solar Frontier, a Japanese manufacturer, abandoned thin-film. This year, Eterbright unveiled the copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) module, a substitution for roof tiles and a great choice for curtail walls with its aesthetic appearance. Eterbright will continue focusing on BIPV products, targeting demand for special specs and overseas markets.
Eterbright’s BIPV module
To accommodate weather conditions in Taiwan, such as high salinity, sand and dust brought by winds in coastal areas, URE optimized the material and design of aluminum frames, so that they can endure salt injuries and better scour sands, preventing dusts from accumulating on module surfaces. Other manufacturers, such as Motech and TSEC, introduced corrosion protection deigns for modules.
Regarding waste management issues of retiring modules, URE, the Industrial Technology Research, and San Fang Chemical Industry jointly developed demountable PV modules, which allows manufacturers to recycle more glass and wafers, solving waste management issue resulted from renewable energies.
URE demountable module
Foreign module tycoons horn in, price war awaits local makers
Local agents showcased modules of world-leading manufacturers, such as Longi’s M10 modules and Hanwha Q CELLS’s M6 modules. In face of anti-circumvention trade risks from the U.S., major Chinese module makers with facilities in Southeast Asia find Taiwan a desirable market. With massive production capacity, these module makers reduce production costs, pushing Taiwanese products to the front line of a potential price war with products made in Southeast Asia.
Foreign module superpowers: Longi and Q CELLS
To compete with foreign products, Taiwanese manufacturers shall devise other alternatives proactively, making their products more competitive by referencing thinning wafers of competitors overseas, or reduce raw material costs, such as by utilizing different materials for frames.
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