LONGi, a major Chinese integrated manufacturer for PV products, announced on February 6 that it will inject RMB 2 billion into its subsidiary Xixian LERRI. The subsidiary is in charge of developing a project for manufacturing hybrid passivated back contact (HPBC) cells. The announcement was first picked up by other Chinese renewable energy news websites.
LONGi as a listed company will be raising RMB 2 billion and transfer it to LONGi-LERRI, which will increase the capital of Xixian LERRI. This amount will be counted as an additional paid-in capital for LONGi-LERRI and Xixian LERRI. Neither LONGi-LERRI nor Xixian LERRI will see a change in their respective figures for registered capital after the capital injection. LONGi said that the capital injection will fund the efforts of its wholly-owned subsidiary in the development of the related project.
Through Xixian LERRI, LONGi is currently setting up an annual production capacity of 29GW for high-efficiency mono-Si. Xixian LERRI’s project has incorporated the in-housed developed HPBC technology. In terms of scheduling, Xixian LERRI is expected to complete the project and put it into full-scale operation by September 2023.
Previously, Xixian LERRI set the scale of the project at 15GW per year. However, the scale of the project was adjusted up to 29GW in January this year following the confirmation that Xixian LERRI will be deploying the HPBC technology. This expansion schedule aligns with LONGi’ operating principal that a new wave of capacity-building activities comes after securing a leadership in technological advances.
According LONGi, the in-house developed HPBC technology has reached maturity and is ready for commercialization. Furthermore, mass-produced HPBC cells are now able to deliver a conversion efficiency rate of more than 25%. The company believes the HPBC technology can be applied to rooftop PV systems, ground-mounted utility-scale PV systems, and PV products for many other settings.
The competition in the PV market continues to intensify, and several next-generation cell technologies are up for wider adoption or even poised to overtake rival solutions. Individually, the major cell suppliers and integrated manufacturers have banked on certain technologies, such as the more familiar N-type cells and TOPCon cells. In the case of HPBC, it has the advantage of having a front side without busbars. LONGi touts that HPBC cells are more stable and reliable compared with other N-type cells.
Industry analysts have pointed out that there are significant differences among crystalline silicon (c-Si) PV cells with respect to raw materials, design, and manufacturing process technologies. Phosphorus-doped N-type cells currently have notable advantages over boron-doped P-type cells in terms of conversion efficiency and power output. Nevertheless, analysts have also emphasized that no cell technology has a dominant market share at this moment. The success of a particular path depends on product differentiation and cost-to-performance ratio.