Author Derek Zhao
Updated March 21, 2023

2022 marked the development of n-type cell technology. InfoLink’s calculation shows that materialized TOPCon and HJT capacity respectively reached 81 GW and 13 GW in 2022. On the shipment side, manufacturers shipped 16 GW of TOPCon and 3 GW of HJT modules. Factoring in around 1 GW of xBC shipment, total n-type shipment has reached around 20 GW last year, accounting a share of 7%.

TOPCon technology has proven profitability that is compatible with, or even better than PERC. During the transition from p-type to n-type, existing solar manufacturers ramp up capacity to secure its position, while new players plan capacity rapidly to grab a share. As of February 2023, high-efficiency cell capacity expansion announcements has exceeded 1,100 GW, with more than 850 GW of which is TOPCon. 

Current situation of TOPCon development 

InfoLink estimates that the nameplate TOPCon capacity will reach 477 GW by the end of 2023, a level that nears existing PERC cell capacity. Last year, only Jinko has 10 GW-scale TOPCon capacity, but there will be more than 17 manufacturers that have at least 10 GW of such capacity by the end of 2023. In addition, new players are expected to add more than 50 GW of TOPCon capacity this year.

In terms of efficiency, mainstream TOPCon cell makers claimed to have reached around 25% and they can increase efficiency by 0.2-0.3% through utilizing SE technique. However, the mainstream 570-575 W, 144-cell, M10 TOPCon bifacial modules show that the real efficiency is around 24.2%, about 1% higher than PERC ones. 

The performance of yield rate still varies among manufacturers. Although leading manufacturers have achieved a level that is similar to PERC, most manufacturers’ yield rate hovers around 95% or even lower than 95%. Improving yield rate is the first priority for TOPCon makers to reduce costs. 

In overseas markets, there will be around 21 GW of new TOPCon cell capacity in Southeast Asia this year, while India will add 6 GW. Among which, Trina’s 2 GW expansion in Thailand is in the midst of coming online. 

Competition on TOPCon routes 

TOPCon capacity in 2022 and before was mostly dominated by LPCVD and POPAID led by Jolywood. LPCVD became the mainstream as Jinko and Jietai had the largest expansion scale. Although LPCVD technique is mature and has better passivation performance, its production efficiency is low and incurs higher quartz costs. Therefore, the industry has yet to give up on PECVD. As Tongwei and Trina continue to make breakthroughs in efficiency and yield rate of PECVD, which, coupled with potential cost advantage brought by PECVD’s higher production efficiency, more and more manufacturers chose PECVD for their capacity expansion.

InfoLink categories the 326 GW capacity (existing and under construction) by polysilicon deposition routes as of February 2023. LPVCD is mainly led by Jinko, Jeitai, and Longi, which together accounts for a share of 42%, while PECVD is used by Tongwei, Trina, Wuxi Shangi Automation, and Runergy, taking up around 52%. POPAID, despite its advantage in faster coating and wraparound-free, it is less favored as its uptime of inline equipment is lower. At present, manufacturers are working on upgrading LPCVD route from one wafer per slot to two wafers per slot to double its production efficiency. It’s estimated that the rivalry between LPCVD and PECVD will persist. 

TOPCOn cell production forecast to hit 135 GW 

While nameplate TOPCon capacity will grow at a large scale, most capacity will not be materialized until the later part of the year. This is because most capacity are newly added, which takes around three to six months of time to complete basic infrastructure and equipment selection. Moreover, it takes at least three months for equipment to arrive, debug, come online, and reach full capacity. Given the current wafer tight supply caused by high-purity quartz shortage, and the fact that n-type ingot production efficiency is lower than that of p-type ingot, the increase of n-type ingot production will intensify the shortage of high-purity quartz. Moreover, newly added TOPCon capacity will mostly come online in the third quarter of this year, which may lead to n-type wafer short supply among non-integrated TOPCon manufacturers. This year is expected to see around 135 GW of TOPCon cell production, and n-type wafer supply will be a determining factor.

Source: InfoLink New Technology Market Report

1. Vertically integrated: wafer ≥ cell production capacity
2. Partially integrated: wafer<cell production capacity
3. Non-integrated: no wafer production capacity

TOPCOn vs. PERC: Accelerated transition from p-type to n-type 

Against the backdrop of rapidly growing TOPCon capacity and factors in the time capacity comes online and potential disproportional supply/demand of quartz and POE resin, TOPCon module shipment is forecast to come in at 110 GW this year, accounting for around 29% of total module shipment. Next year, TOPCon capacity will surpass that of PERC, phasing out PERC products at a faster pace with its advantage in efficiency, and potentially bringing the share of n-type shipment to 60%.


Source: InfoLink New Technology Market Report

As TOPCon technology advances, HJT cell capacity will also grow markedly. HJT capacity to be materialized and module shipment is likely to hit 50 GW and 10 GW this year, respectively. On the other hand, xBC technology led by Longi and Aiko will see significant growth, with xBC module shipment potentially hitting 10 GW. TOPCon, HJT and xBC technologies will accelerate the shift from PERC. PERC still takes up around 60% of market share this year, but that share may decline to less than 30% in 2024, as n-type cell technology penetrates, and thin film sustains its market share. 

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