Photovoltaic products to "global manufacturing, global sales" pattern change


Published:

2024-01-31

Photovoltaic products to "global manufacturing, global sales" pattern change

Through 2023, China's photovoltaic industry to maintain the momentum of volume and quality: solar cell production increased by 54% over the previous year, the number of global patent applications was 126,400, ranking first in the world; The new solar installed capacity is equivalent to the global solar installed capacity in 2022.
From the past raw materials, equipment, the market "three outside", to now has nearly half of the world's photovoltaic power generation installed capacity, more than 80% of the main manufacturing link output, China's photovoltaic industry has achieved leapfrog development. Why China's photovoltaic products lead the world? What are the challenges facing the current industrial development? The reporter conducted an interview.
Seize the new opportunities of green and low-carbon transformation, and accelerate the iteration of photovoltaic industry technology and steadily expand the scale
In Shannan City, Xizang Province, at an altitude of 4,994 meters to 5,100 meters, nearly 80,000 photovoltaic panels shine in the light. On December 30, 2023, Huadian Xizang Caipeng Photovoltaic Project was connected to the grid to generate electricity. The power generation of this photovoltaic project at the highest altitude in the world can meet the electricity demand of nearly 4,000 households every day.
"The project used our ultra-high power components and took just over a month from order to delivery." Gao Jifan, chairman of Trina Solar Co., LTD., introduced that in the first three quarters of 2023, the cumulative shipment of photovoltaic modules of the enterprise exceeded 170 gigawatts, equivalent to the installed capacity of nearly eight Three Gorges power stations.
Speaking of Tibet, Gao Jifan recalled his experience 22 years ago. In 2002, China started the "power to the township" project, through the construction of photovoltaic power stations, wind and solar complementary power stations, etc., to solve the electricity problem of more than 700 villages without electricity. Gao Jifan took 18 colleagues to the plateau and completed the installation of 40 photovoltaic power stations.
"At that time, the equipment had to be carried to the site by people and horses, and the average power station was only more than 20 kilowatts and dozens of photovoltaic panels, using foreign brands." Gao Jifan said that at that time, China's photovoltaic industry had just started, and there were only a handful of companies manufacturing photovoltaic products. Trina Solar, which had just been established for five years, did not even have a component factory, with annual revenue of about 100 million yuan. Today, only the first three quarters of 2023, the company's revenue has exceeded 80 billion yuan, an increase of more than 40%, and profit growth of more than 100%.
Data released by the China Photovoltaic Industry Association show that in the first 10 months of 2023, the output value of photovoltaic manufacturing exceeded 1.3 trillion yuan; In the first three quarters of 2023, the output of photovoltaic silicon materials, silicon wafers, cells and modules has exceeded the previous year, and the export volume of silicon wafers, cells and modules increased by 88.3%, 74.3% and 33%, respectively.
Behind the steady expansion of the scale of the photovoltaic industry is the opportunity brought by the global green and low-carbon transformation and China's promotion of the "double carbon" goal.
"Photovoltaic is already a more economical power source in the vast majority of countries and regions in the world, and will become a supporting force for green low-carbon transition." Li Zhenguo, president of Longi Green Energy Technology Co., LTD., said that according to estimates, from silicon materials to photovoltaic modules, direct energy consumption is about 0.4 KWH per watt, and the entire life cycle power generation of each watt photovoltaic module is about 45 KWH, which is about 100 times its energy consumption.
The International Energy Agency recently released a report showing that the new installed capacity of renewable energy in 2023 increased by 50% over the previous year, and the new installed capacity reached 510 gigawatts, and solar photovoltaic accounted for about three-quarters. By the beginning of 2025, renewable energy, including photovoltaic, will become the world's most dominant source of electricity. Look at the domestic, as of the end of November 2023, the cumulative installed capacity of solar power generation in the country is about 560 million kilowatts, an increase of 49.9%; Major power generation enterprises completed investment in solar power generation of 320.9 billion yuan, an increase of 60.5%.
Behind the steady expansion of the scale of the photovoltaic industry is the dividend brought by enterprises to accelerate technology iteration and promote cost reduction.
In Longi Green Energy Xi 'an Battery Factory, 17,000 square meters of dust-free workshop, an average of 0.8 seconds have a solar cell off the line. Look closely at the dark blue cell, which is lined with thin white wires, the grid lines made of conductive materials such as silver powder, responsible for collecting and exporting electrons generated by the sun's light. In the screen printing process, the silver paste is attached to the battery through the printing screen, and then dried and sintered.
"Buying silver paste used to account for about half of the cost of solar cell production. Today, we use a screen with a line width of only about 9 microns and a thinner grid line, which greatly reduces the consumption of silver paste, reduces the shading area and improves the conversion efficiency of the battery." Chang Pengfei, president of Longi Green Battery Manufacturing Center, said that the positive silver paste consumption of a single 7.9-watt battery has been reduced from about 100 mg in the past to about 46 mg.
Chang Pengfei told reporters that compared with more than 10 years ago, silicon chips from about 100 yuan per piece to two or three yuan, components from more than 40 yuan per watt to less than 1 yuan, power generation conversion efficiency from 14% to 15%, to today's mainstream technology can reach 24% to 25%, "the cost is significantly reduced, the efficiency is steadily improved, and the scale of photovoltaic applications continues to improve."
Continue to high-end high efficiency, take the road of differentiation competition
As a new track led by the "double carbon" goal, the photovoltaic industry has a broad space for development, and has also attracted many enterprises to cross the border. Since 2023, the output and export volume of photovoltaic products have performed well, but they also face challenges such as mid-to-low-end overcapacity and continuous low prices.
From the data point of view, from January to October 2023, the price of polysilicon and component products fell by 60% and 40% respectively. Component prices from the beginning of the year about 1.8 yuan per watt, quickly fell to less than 1 yuan. In some manufacturing links, product homogeneity competition is fierce, and price and cost are inverted.
Many interviewees believe that the "elimination game" is the inevitable market competition, some low-end production capacity will be cleared, only by taking the road of differentiated competition, strengthen innovation investment, etc., in order to help high-quality enterprises better build a "moat".
-- To high-end development, practice the "killer card".
Into the Sichuan Leshan GCL Technology 100,000 tons of granular silicon project, a particle diameter of 2 mm gray granular silicon into the storage tank, waiting for inspection and shipment. "The average daily shipment is about 10 cars, nearly 300 tons of granular silicon, and we have received orders close to the capacity limit." Leshan GCL technology general manager Wang Yongliang said.
In the context of the overall oversupply of silicon, why can granular silicon be produced at full capacity? Zhu Gongshan, chairman of GCL Group, introduced that compared with the currently commonly used rod-like silicon, granular silicon is smaller and more fluid, and each furnace can be filled with 15% to 20% more silicon material; The use of granular silicon to produce 1 GW of components can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 19 percent and boost application costs by about 19 percent.
From the research and development of granular silicon in 2010 to the industrialization of 10,000 tons in 2019, GCL Group has invested more than 3 billion yuan. At present, the unit gross profit of the granular silicon they produce is more than 15 percentage points higher than that of the rod-like silicon. At present, GCL Group is accelerating the commercialization of large-scale perovskite battery technology. Compared with traditional crystalline silicon cells, the preparation process of perovskite cells is shorter, the energy consumption is lower, and the application scenarios are more abundant because of the characteristics of light weight, bendability, and translucent.
-- Move towards high efficiency and become a leader.
27.09%! In December 2023, Longi Green Energy broke the world record for single-crystalline silicon solar cell efficiency, which is another breakthrough after creating a world record for silicon solar cell efficiency of 26.81% in 2022.
Improved battery conversion efficiency means that the same area absorbs the same light and can emit more electricity. "Based on the 240 gigawatts of new PV installed capacity in the world in 2022, the conversion efficiency can be improved by 0.01 percentage points, and 140 million KWH of electricity can be added every year." Li Zhenguo said that on the basis of 20% conversion efficiency, each increase of 1 percentage point conversion efficiency can save more than 5% of the cost of downstream power stations.
The secret of repeatedly breaking records comes from the research and development concept of "wide research and narrow investment" : "wide research", that is, the layout of different technical routes and industrial fields with potential; "Narrow investment", that is, focus on putting the preferred technology into mass production. In the past five years, Longi Green Energy has invested more than 18 billion yuan in research and development.
Since 2014, Chinese enterprises have created the world's highest photoelectric conversion efficiency more than 50 times. Cao Renxian, chairman of the China Photovoltaic Industry Association and chairman of Sunlight Power Supply, introduced that in 2023, technologies such as tunnel oxide passivation contact batteries, heterojunction batteries, and back-contact batteries will accelerate industrialization, and the conversion efficiency of new batteries such as perovskite and lamination will repeatedly hit a new high, and China's photovoltaic technology level is leading the world.
Integrate innovation, build factories abroad, and continue to expand the depth and breadth of the market
Under the guidance of the "double carbon" goal, photovoltaic is deeply integrated with industry, construction, transportation and other fields, and continues to expand the depth and breadth of the market through application model innovation.
Green hydrogen is used in refining. In the Xinjiang Kuqa Green Hydrogen demonstration project of Sinopec, the green electricity produced by more than 500,000 photovoltaic panels is made into green hydrogen, which is transported to refining and chemical enterprises through pipelines to replace the hydrogen production of natural gas used in refining and processing, so as to achieve green refining products.
"Since June 30, 2023, the project has delivered more than 27 million standard cubic meters of green hydrogen to Tahe Refining and Chemical. With the completion of the capacity expansion of the Tahe refining and chemical production plant, the green hydrogen delivery will gradually increase, and it is expected that by the fourth quarter of 2025, the hydrogen delivery will reach 20,000 tons/year." The relevant person in charge of Sinopec introduced.
The building is dressed in new clothes. In Dongyu Island, Hainan, where the permanent site of the Boao Forum for Asia is located, hotels and carports in parking lots have installed photovoltaic building integration products (BIPV). Different from the traditional support for photovoltaic panels on the roof, the roof itself is made up of inner panels, thermal insulation cotton, outer panels, photovoltaic power generation layers and so on. BIPV allows photovoltaics to truly become part of the building without leaving a channel for installation, meaning that larger capacity components can be installed on the same roof area, increasing power generation by about 15%.
Going to sea to build a factory has also become the development trend of the photovoltaic industry in the past two years. TCL Central actively promotes the investment and construction of photovoltaic crystal chip factory in Saudi Arabia; Ja Technology plans to invest about 2.715 billion yuan to build a 5 GW high efficiency battery project in Vietnam; Arthas established a photovoltaic module production base with an annual output of 5 GW in Texas, USA...
Liu Yiyang, deputy secretary-general of the China Photovoltaic Industry Association, said that the current photovoltaic enterprises have gone to sea to build factories, and the destinations have expanded from Southeast Asia to the United States, the Middle East, Indonesia and other markets; There are more links in the layout of overseas production capacity, and the upstream and downstream industrial chain has become a trend to go to sea, "In addition, from the past to simply export products, the transition to provide production, management, brands, services, and build a win-win ecology of global cooperation."
"Photovoltaic products are changing from 'made in China, sold globally' to 'made globally, sold globally' pattern." Facing the future, it is necessary to build a high-quality collaborative development ecology for the photovoltaic industry, further actively integrate into the global industrial system, and carry out international cooperation in fields such as green energy." Gao Jifan said.

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