Ongoing investments in research and development, technical improvements and a competitive environment are spurring on the mass production of increasingly powerful and cost-effective solar cells and modules. Change is afoot here, with plenty of recent innovations being developed in the areas of monocrystalline cells and modules, PERC, TOPCon, half-cut cells, heterojunction, and seamless and bifacial modules. Companies seem to be announcing new efficiency records almost weekly. For example, this January saw a leading manufacturer present a monocrystalline module with an efficiency rating of 22.39 percent, which marks an improvement of around two percent within the space of just two years. In keeping with an important current industry trend, this same company also unveiled plans to further expand production capacity for monocrystalline modules with large wafers. Also in January of this year, another leading manufacturer announced that its bifacial p-type and n-type heterojunction modules had broken two efficiency records, having been independently verified as reaching maximum efficiencies of 21.82 and 22.49 percent respectively. The company claimed that the improvements in its mass-produced modules were down to a new anti-reflective coating and the use of more advanced metallization technology. New tilling ribbon technology was also integrated into the configuration of the solar cells, eliminating gaps between the cells and optimizing their yield. Analysts at IHS Markit predict that bifacial modules, which also generate solar power on their backsheet, will account for a third of global production by 2022. Plenty is happening in the area of thin-film technology as well. For example, researchers working in a lab at the Empa institute in Switzerland have managed to produce CIGS solar cells with an efficiency rating of 20.8 percent for the first time.
Intersolar Europe 2020 in Munich is a fantastic opportunity for visitors to discover first-hand the most important developments in cell and module technology.