Neo Solar Power’s (NSP) N-type bifacial monocrystalline cell, recognized for its high efficiency, was launched at the PV Taiwan 2014 exhibition in Taipei last week. Taiwan is a key player in the manufacturing of high-efficiency solar cells.
The N-type cell is likely to become the next-generation high-efficiency mono cell, replacing the current mainstream P-type mono cell in the future, said Corrine Lin, an analyst at EnergyTrend, a division of the Taiwan-based market intelligence firm TrendForce. Currently, the PERC production process, with less capital investment than the N-type mono cell process, can boost cell efficiency from 19.2%-19.4% to 20%-20.2% using P-type mono cells, Lin said. Since N-type mono cells currently have an energy conversion efficiency of 22%, they surpass P-type mono cells’ efficiency target easily. Therefore, N-type mono cells are expected to become the next-generation mono cell. Additionally, the N-type mono cell’s initial light induced degradation (LID) is close to 0%. It is also able to generate electricity well under dim lighting and achieve even higher efficiency efficient after being packaged as a module.
SunPower, Panasonic, and Yingli were initially the only N-type mono cell mass production manufacturers, but other international brands are now entering the market fast. Those new entrants include Silevo, which was recently acquired by SolarCity, LG Electronics and Mission Solar. Given their prowess in the solar cell market, Taiwanese firms are expected to excel in the production of N-type mono cells. NSP, Motech and Inventec are the new N-type mono cell entrants among Taiwan firms. The front side of NSP’s N-type bifacial cell presented in the exhibition can reach efficiency of 20.4%, while the contribution of the back side is 20%, meaning the total conversion efficiency is 24.5% and can produce 60-cell modules that reach 330Wp of power. Motech also plans to become capable of delivering N-type mono cell products to their clients next year.
Although prospects for N-type mono cells are good, there are obstacles they must overcome before they can enter the mainstream solar market. “Buyers in the solar energy market expect products to be low cost but high value,” Lin said. “But at this early stage of development, it is expensive to implement N-type mono cells in the production process. Until clear demand is demonstrated from buyers, few manufacturers will invest in the development of N-type mono cell production lines.” With that in mind, it could be a long time before N-type mono cells become mainstream in the solar market.