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Silver Paste Innovations and Cost Reductions Propel HJT Forward

published: 2024-05-29 18:02

In 2024, enhancing the efficiency of HJT technology has become a more urgent task than cost reduction, particularly in the context of the rapid power increase driven by TOPCon technology. HJT needs to achieve an approximately 30-watt power advantage through its own optimization.

Regarding costs, the reduction in silver paste usage and the focus on target material cost reduction and silver-free alternatives have become new focal points. Recently, there have been two significant changes in cost dynamics. First, the decline in silver content in paste and the processing fees for low-temperature silver paste have exceeded expectations, thanks to the technological breakthrough by the overseas paste manufacturer KE, which successfully launched a 30% silver content silver-plated paste. Additionally, processing fees have significantly dropped, giving HJT a clear cost advantage in terms of paste. Second, the combination of 0BB technology with 30% silver paste has given HJT an edge in low silver consumption, making it better equipped to withstand silver price fluctuations and even benefit from rising silver prices. Hence, while rising silver prices have accelerated the approach of HJT costs to those of traditional technologies, HJT's core competitiveness lies in its continuous low silver consumption, decoupling its technology from silver price volatility. Of course, improving power output is key to the development of HJT technology. Currently, without adding a light-converting film, mainstream HJT products in the 210 format lead TOPCon by only about 10 watts.

In the next 2-3 quarters, HJT's power enhancement speed is expected to surpass that of TOPCon, mainly due to breakthroughs in several key technologies: advanced PVD coating, secondary texturing, and, most importantly, screen printing technology. These are expected to contribute approximately 0.6-0.7% efficiency improvement at the cell level, translating to about a 15-watt increase in module power. Specifically, screen printing, by optimizing the aspect ratio of silver-coated copper paste, is expected to improve optical and electrical performance, contributing an estimated 0.3% efficiency improvement on its own.

Light-converting film technology at the module level is another important driver. With more manufacturers entering the light-converting film market, its cost-effectiveness has significantly improved, and costs have substantially decreased, making it likely to become a standard feature for HJT within the year. Combined with cell-level enhancements, by the end of 2024, HJT is expected to have a power advantage of over 4% compared to TOPCon in the 210 format, equivalent to about 30 watts in the 20 format. The significance lies in the fact that a power lead of 2% to 5% in similar technology update cycles is sufficient to propel a technology from emerging to mainstream. The 30-watt difference is not arbitrary; it is based on historical technology iteration patterns. For instance, when TOPCon was first introduced at the end of 2022, its power advantage over PERC was only 10-15 watts (2%), but by the end of 2023, this gap had expanded to 30 watts (about 5%), establishing TOPCon as the dominant technology.

Thus, a 4% power lead is sufficient to trigger a new round of expansion for HJT. For example, Tongwei's latest announcement indicates an open attitude towards both silver-coated copper and copper plating technologies, without a clear preference. Its latest GW line not only enhances production efficiency but also suggests further reductions in non-silicon costs and equipment investment, which are crucial for the large-scale production of HJT technology. If the operational efficiency and cost control of this GW line meet expectations, HJT will gain stronger cost and scale advantages.

Specific progress in power enhancement and cost reduction should focus on the commercialization of screen printing technology, efficiency improvements, and capacity utilization by leading manufacturers such as Risen Energy and Chain Technology, as well as cost reductions for key auxiliary materials like silver-coated copper powder. Additionally, observing the financial reports of major manufacturers to see if they can achieve profitability around the third quarter of this year will be an important indicator of the successful commercialization of the technology.

Source:PV Online

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