Author InfoLink
Updated August 21, 2020

The PV industry has recently centered around bigger modules with higher power output and lower cost. On June 24, seven PV manufacturers including Jinko, JA Solar, Canadian solar and Longi formed an alliance to promote 182mm (M10) as a new standard for wafer format to rival 210mm (G12) introduced in 2019. 

While 158.75mm (G1) and 166mm (M6) remain the mainstream formats now, 166mm format is projected to become dominance in the first half of 2021 as the market shifts to larger wafer sizes. Wafers measuring 182mm and beyond, on the other hand, won’t  be widely adopted until 2022 because they are in the early stage of product promotion. InfoLink estimates that modules based on wafers measuring 182mm and beyond will take up over 50% of market share in 2022. 

The bottleneck in large wafer development is the lack of furnaces for larger PV glass, which requires six to nine months to be upgraded to accommodate larger modules. In addition, it’s questionable whether end users have requirement on such high power modules even they can deliver lower LCOE as well as balance of system (BOS) costs. Regarding issues revolving cell yield rate and applications of power inverters, manufacturers are expected to find solution shortly.

In response to shift in wafer sizes, module makers need to adjust equipment to accommodate bigger cells. Vertically integrated companies have ensured their new production lines are compatible with sizes up to 210mm. In fact, modules based on either M10 or G12 wafers boast a power output of over 500 W. Post COVID-19, the gap of competitive edge between Tier-1 and Tier-2, 3 players has expanded as larger manufacturers continue to make breakthrough in module power output. InfoLink projects that the top 10 module makers will dominate over 80% of market share this year.

It is foreseeable that 166mm-modules will be adopted by the residential sector, while 182mm- and 210mm-modules will be used in utility-scale solar plants. As n-type  heterojunction (HJT) and TOPCon technologies gradually advance, manufacturers will turn their R&D focus toward the combination of large wafers with n-type technologies to maximize benefits.

Manufacturing industry seeks unity on wafer size

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