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Panasonic’s 20-year History in HIT® Mass Production Brings Followers

published: 2017-01-24 17:59

Heterojunction technology has been winning attractions from the global solar industry as a candidate for next-generation high-efficiency PV technology following PERC, although it is not new to Panasonic at all. Panasonic started mass production of HIT® solar panels in 1997, and 2017 is its 20th anniversary.

Hetero-junction cell structure composed of mono-crystalline and amorphous silicon layers to maximize the efficiency of each solar cell. Panasonic’s HIT® is one of the world’s leading heterojunction products as well as the world’s first heterojunction solution that is commercialized. Far in advance to the mass production started, Panasonic got the heterojunction inception back to four decades ago.

"20 years later, our sustained commitment to R&D is reflected in our various efficiency records in laboratory settings and we will continue to strive to be the company of choice in the residential solar market,” said Dan Silver, President of Panasonic Eco-Solutions Company. “We are thrilled to have made such great strides to this point but we know that there is much work still to be done, and we look forward to the continued growth of the HIT® and the solar industry as a whole.”

Panasonic has continuously updated and innovated the HIT® to make them some of the most efficient solar panels available to residential consumers. As the technology has improved over the years, the price of these panels has gone down and the potential savings for consumers has increased drastically. Panasonic’s HIT® panels boasts temperature coefficients of -0.29%/°C so they are able to operate at peak efficiency in heat.

Every Panasonic HIT® panel is awarded 25-year power generating guarantee, demonstrating the company’s confidence in this technology.

New players

Panasonic has dominated production and supply of heterojunction solar panels for 20 years, proving that its HIT® technology is applicable to various installations including residential and ground-mounted projects. Panasonic has also developed bifacial HIT® solar panels for vertical installation and displayed this solution at 2016’s PV EXPO held in Tokyo Japan.

PERC technology is today’s mainstream high-efficiency technology, however some companies are looking for the follower to win the market in the next generation. Heterojunction is regarded as a potential one to take over PERC’s position.

As EnergyTrend learns from many industry insiders, heterojunction technology offers conversion efficiency of over 23%, breaking the ceiling of today’s silicon-based technologies. Solar panels manufactured with heterojunction structure can operate in higher temperature degree thanks to better temperature coefficient. Furthermore, heterojunction solar panels will be PID-free due to its N-type structure.

There are already new players. In Taiwan, Neo Solar Power acquired Archers Systems’ self-developed heterojunction equipment, PECVD and PRD, to establish a 40MW HJT solar cell production capacity. In China, GCL-SI and Jinneng Group have respectively announced to invest millions of RMB in developing high-efficiency HJT technology. In USA, Panasonic and Tesla will relaunch production of SolarCity’s factory in Buffalo, and this factory is believed to be for heterojunction technology.

Although heterojunction’s cost is approximately twice over silicon-based solar cells, it is still noticeable for the future market. The solar market will stress stronger on LCOE rather than absolute production costs, which creates opportunities for next-gen technologies such as IBC and heterojunction and so on.

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