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CPIA Roadmap Forecasts China To Increase Solar Module Production by Over 50% To Exceed 750 GW

Aerial view of solar panels of a power plant
  • CPIA’s roadmap for Chinese solar industry sees exponential manufacturing growth across the industrial chain 
  • The country will increase the production of polysilicon, wafers, cells and modules by around 50% this year 
  • The industry employed 3.53 million people in 2022, and the numbers will likely grow to between 4.875 million and 5.808 million by 2025 

Chinese solar module manufacturers are gearing up to deliver more than 750 GW of modules in 2024, representing over 50% annual growth over the 499 GW they delivered in 2023, according to the China Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA). 

This year will also see the country’s manufacturing industry produce 820 GW of solar cells, up from the 545 GW in 2023. Silicon wafer output is also expected to exceed 935 GW this year considering the expansion plans of leading companies in the space. Last year, the country rolled out close to 622 GW, having gone up 67.5% YoY (see China’s Solar PV Output In 2023 Exceeded RMB 1.7 Trillion). 

After delivering 1.43 million tons of polysilicon last year with a 67% annual increase, China is looking at over 2.1 million tons this year, according to the CPIA that makes this forecast in its recently released China Photovoltaic Industry Development Roadmap (2023-2024). 

The CPIA report touches upon 77 key indicators across the solar PV value chain that reflect the development status and trends of the industry, technology and the market. The report also predicts development trends over the next few years till 2030, combined with the technological evolution process and the current status of the industry. 

For 2024, the association forecasts China to install up to 220 GW AC new PV additions with land constraints and grid capacity as the major challenges, after growing to 216.30 GW AC in 2023 (see Industry Expects Chinese Solar Installation Spree To Slow Down). 

To support this growing solar PV capacity, like major global economies of the US, Europe, Japan and South Korea, China too is encouraging the energy storage industry. China installed close to 22.6 GW of new domestic energy storage capacity with an average storage time of 2.1 hours. 

As regulatory support for storage builds up parallel to technological improvements bringing down its costs, China may exceed 31 GW capacity for this technology in 2025. 

According to the association, the current investment cost of operationalizing a 10,000-ton trichlorosilane polysilicon production line is RMB 90 million/thousand tons. Expecting technological improvements, the investment/thousand tons will drop to RMB 80 million by 2030. 

Even when it comes to silicon wafer thickness, the thinner the better. The average thickness of polysilicon wafers in 2023 was 170 μm. While the CPIA does not see any change to this value this year, it believes it can change in the later years. 

“To maintain the competitiveness of n-type products, TOPCon n-type silicon wafer products for solar cells and heterojunction (HJT) cells have strong motivation to reduce thickness. The average thickness of n-type silicon wafers used in TOPCon cells is 125 μm, and the thickness of silicon wafers used in heterojunction cells is about 120μm, which is a decrease of 15μm and 5μm respectively compared with 2022,” reads the report. 

Reflecting on the various wafer sizes in the market today, the share of 182 mm square wafers is 47.7%, while that of rectangular derivates of M10 format such as 182mm x 183.75mm, 182mm x 185.3 mm, which are termed as micro-rectangular by CPIA (using machine language translation), is 20.3%, but these may phase out of the market in 2028.  

The market share of 210 mm square wafers and rectangular wafers in 2023 was 20% and 10%, respectively. The latter most likely refers to the half cut wafers that are so far used only in HJT processing. Going forward, these may become the future mainstream size, but these will still need continuous verification by the market. 

As for the cell technology, CPIA analysis indicates that most of the newly established lines are based on n-type, which is expected to grow in the coming years, pushing PERC into retirement. However, in 2023, PERC still dominated the cell technology space in terms of installed capacity with a share of 73%, while the n-type is enjoying the rest of the pie. 

Within n-type, TOPCon apparently had the largest share of 26.5%, and 2.6% for HJT, while back contact architecture represented close to 1%. While this is significant growth over 2022, the projection for 2025 is even more optimistic for n-type, especially for TOPCon, which is expected to dominate the cell technology stream with a share of more than 50%. The other advanced cell technologies are also expected to more than double their shares in 2024 over the 2023 level. PERC is the only exception; as expected, the technology would lose its dominance with a 30% presence. Interestingly, the tandem cell architectures have not got a mention in the CPIA roadmap. 

In 2023, the average mass production solar cell efficiency of PERC cells reached 23.4%, 25% for TOPCon and 25.2% for HJT. By 2025, the CPIA forecasts the same to increase to 23.7%, 25.7% and 26.2%, respectively. It does not see any major breakthroughs going forward since its guidance for 2028 for these cell technologies is a maximum of 24%, 26.5% and 26.8%, respectively. For HJT efficiency, it factors in half cells of 182 mm and 210 mm formats, which has evolved as the state of the art for HJT. 

A big chunk of solar cell cost depends on the use of silver paste. Currently, the industry uses high-temperature silver paste for p-type and TOPCon cells, and low-temperature silver pastes for HJT cells. In 2023, the amount of silver used on the front side was about 59 mg/piece for p-type cells, and the back side silver consumption was about 25 mg/piece. 

N-type TOPCon cells use an average of about 109 mg/piece of silver for both sides, while the HJT double-sided low-temperature silver paste consumption was about 115 mg/piece. 

Among inverters, string inverters accounted for 80% market share last year while central inverters claimed the remaining share. The association foresees great uncertainty in the market shares of different types of inverters as changes take place in application scenarios and technology evolves. 

CPIA says the Chinese PV industry employed 3.53 million people in 2022, including 589,000 in direct employment. By 2025, the industry will likely employ 4.875 million to 5.808 million, including 813,000 to 968,000 in direct jobs. 

The entire CPIA roadmap is available on its website in Chinese. 

Source from Taiyang News

Disclaimer: The information set forth above is provided by Taiyang News independently of Alibaba.com. Alibaba.com makes no representation and warranties as to the quality and reliability of the seller and products.

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