It’s been a very exciting time at Solar Power International 2019 thus far, with plenty of new products to check out. In the solar panel space, everyone seems to be playing with half-cell modules and increasingly innovative designs to push those power ratings even higher. Here are a few highlights I saw on Day 1.
Vikram Solar’s SOMERA Ultima Max half-cell modules are really powerful — output ranges from 405 to 425 W. The panel consists of 150 half-cells, which is six more than a traditional 72-full-cell/144-half-cell module. Vikram accomplishes this by not splitting the panel into two sections with a bar down the middle. Company reps told me that Vikram wants to have a 1-GW presence in the United States within the next three years, and the company will work toward this by establishing partnerships with EPCs and developers, working on R&D and following technology trends in the market. Next on Vikram’s manufacturing list: moving to nine busbars on panels for even more power.
A few companies throw around the “shingled” adjective on their solar panels, and here is Canadian Solar’s version. The cells on the HiDM-Black module are split into six pieces and then connected into a panel without busbars. Instead, a conductive adhesive on the back of the cells make all the connections. The result is a 20% efficient all-black module. The 60-cell version can reach 340 W.
Speaking of shingled modules, Q CELLS is aiming for something in the same vein. Still just a prototype, a new line within the Q.PEAK DUO family will feature a “gapless” design. Half-cells will be positioned right next to each other with no white space in between. Q CELLS is talking this new product over with its customers right now, as the traditionally 72-cell-sized panel will be about 4 in. longer, accommodating another 12 half-cells (156-half-cells total). If C&I and utility-scale installers can work with the larger panel, then its maximum output would be 455 W with 20.6% efficiency.
Finally, the world’s most powerful 60-cell solar panel hits the U.S. market. REC’s Alpha Series can reach 380 W and 21.7% efficiency. This module can provide 20% more power than the traditional 60-cell market today. Alpha Series uses half-cut heterojunction (HJT) cells and has a 25-year product warranty and performance warranty.
Lastly we have the latest development in the AC module game. LG has streamlined its whole offering, now including a microinverter, gateway and cabling all under one name and one 25-year warranty. The LG NeON R ACe is a 375-W AC module that is entirely LG. The module also comes with an app-based monitoring service system called EnerVu that will alert LG customer service (centralized in Alabama at the company’s new panel manufacturing plant) to help address technical issues remotely.