Trina Solar found that its Vertex modules, based on the 210mm wafer, achieved up to 1.6% more energy efficiency than competing products based on the smaller 182mm wafer format. The company conducted outdoor tests at two separate sites with different climates, and found that products based on the larger format had a particular advantage in low irradiance environments.
The introduction of larger wafer / cell formats has been one of the biggest recent trends in module technology. With two different sizes – the 210mm ‘G12’ introduced by Zhonghuan semiconductor, and the smaller 182mm “M10” format produced by Longi – now well established in manufacturing, industry is looking for ways to differentiate the two.
The results of various field tests released throughout this year have been able to demonstrate an advantage for either format. New results published this week by Chinese manufacturer Trina Solar reveal that the 210 mm format, used in the Vertex module series, achieved up to 1.6% better fuel efficiency than products based on the 182mm product, over a six-month period.
The modules were tested at a site in Yinchuan, China, which has a dry and temperate climate, and at a second site in Changzhou, China, where conditions are subtropical with hot, rainy summers and high humidity. At the Yinchuan site, data from April to September 2021 showed an energy efficiency advantage of 1.2% for Vertex modules, based on monofacial modules installed on fixed tilt racks at a height of 1 meter. For bifacial modules, the advantage increased slightly to 1.3%. And at the Changzhou site, Vertex modules achieved 1.6% higher efficiency than 182mm products.
Analysis of the results by Trina Solar revealed that better performance in low light conditions (200 watts per square meter) was the key to the advantage of the Vertex module.
The higher currents in larger format products are one of the main differences between the two products, and previous results presented by JA Solar (which supports the 182mm format) found that this resulted in a higher operating temperature, and therefore lower fuel efficiency, for 210mm products. This was not the case in Trina’s field trials, however, with no measurable temperature difference between the two at either site.
Further analysis of the two test system configurations and components would be required to understand the reasons for the different operating temperatures (JA Solar test site is also located in Yinchuan, with similar conditions). For now, modules based on both wafer formats will be available on the market. Further field testing, as well as standardization and development of other system components to suit the characteristics of either format and optimize costs, will show whether one or the other has a real advantage overall or in particular applications.
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