With the mainstream technology of PERC cell efficiency gradually approaching the ceiling, the transition from p-type to n-tupe is an inevitable trend. While peers are hesitating on various technical routes in the market, Astronergy is marching towards TOPCon.
Last April, Astronergy launched a major new product line for the ASTRO N-series n-type TOPCon modules, including the ASTRO N6 (700W+), ASTRO N5 (630W+), and ASTRO N5s module series, targeting ground power plants, large distributed power plants, and residential scenarios, marking the beginning of the n-type transformation of leading module enterprises.
“TOPCon is the most suitable iterative technology at this stage,” pointed out Zhou Shengyong, Global Product Technical Service Director of Astronergy. In his opinion, the advantage of TOPCon lies in its ecological compatibility, which can fully utilize the existing PERC industry chain.
Another key strength is the clear path to cost reduction and efficiency enhancement, which is the core pain point of the photovoltaic industry. The highest theoretical efficiency of TOPCon cells is 28.7%, and the average efficiency of mass production in 2022 was about 24.6%, while that of most of the top enterprises have exceeded 25%.
Zhou Shengyong introduced that the average efficiency of production of Astronergy TOPCon cells is currently 25.3%, and there are clear plans for further cost reduction and efficiency improvement in the future, including silicon wafer thinning, film layer optimization, and improvement of front and back busbar metallization.
“We will witness an explosive growth in TOPCon this year, not a gradual incremental process,” Zhou Shengyong predicted and believed that their choice has the perfect timing.
Zhou Shengyong conducted a detailed production process. In terms of silicon cost, due to the lack of laser cutting process, TOPCon cell silicon wafers can be made thinner. For non silicon cost, the price of TOPCon is mainly higher than PERC in terms of slurry, equipment and processing costs, yield, etc. However, in terms of module non silicon costs, TOPCon can increase the power by 20W+, thereby diluting the per watt cost of non silicon materials, including frames, EVA, glass, packaging materials, and junction boxes.
Zhou Shengyong also emphasized that HJT has advantages in multiple aspects such as module temperature coefficient and bifacial rate. However, the industry still needs time to break through cost barriers at present, and Astronergy has been maintaining close tracking and research experiments on HJT and IBC.
By 2022, Astronergy’s module production capacity was 20 GW and 13 GW of cells. The company plans to increase modules to 48 GW by the end of this year, expand its mass production base from the previous five to 10, and further increase its module production capacity to 90 GW by 2025. This is a crucial decision made by the management. Compared to the renovation of old production lines, the industrial efficiency, yield control, intelligence, and automation level of new production line equipment will bring great advantages to quality control and reduce per watt costs.
Meanwhile, as early as the third quarter of 2022, Astronergy thoroughly cleaned up small-scale production lines below 182mm. According to the plan, by the end of 2023, the proportion of n-type module capacity will reach 85%, and by 2025, the proportion will soar to 95%, greatly enhancing the efficient product delivery capacity.
In 2022, Astronergy shipped 13.5 GW of modules, ranking up to the top seven globally. In 2023, Astronergy will increase its pace, with an expected module shipment of over 30 GW, n-type accounting for over 70%.