China’s first photovoltaic power station was built in Gansu province in 1983 and has been in continuous operation for 39 years, well beyond the standard 25-year life cycle. So, what are the secrets of the plant’s reliability and operational longevity? In May and June, industry professionals debated the reliability of photovoltaic products at three consecutive live-streamed events, themed “PV, making friends over time”.
The experts involved agreed that, while a photovoltaic power plant is an asset capable of generating constant income, the associated risk can only be reduced by ensuring long-term stability and the ability to withstand extreme weather conditions. In summary, reliability must be a priority.
The Gansu Energy Institute, owner of the 39-year-old power plant, was represented by Shimin Li. According to Li, as the size of a high-efficiency module increases, the area and weight of its aluminum frame increases and mechanics is considerably reduced. It is essential to be aware of the risk of module deformation, as the failure frequency of large modules must be taken into account. Product costs cannot be reduced at the expense of quality, as a factory owner’s primary concern is long-term stability and guaranteed revenue. The importance of brand recognition should also not be underestimated, as well-known brands tend to be more trustworthy.
DuPont’s Dr. Bo Fu focused on the module materials. Monocrystalline silicon itself is very stable, but components such as ribbons, backsheets, and aluminum frames must also be reliable to ensure long-term stability of power generation.
In terms of the future development of the photovoltaic industry, the LCOE is an essential factor in driving the technology upgrade of modular products, with the power generation capacity of a power plant during its lifetime being a consideration. key. Not only must a module pass standard laboratory tests, but it must also be able to withstand extreme weather conditions such as snow pressure, hail and hurricanes. Accordingly, the module size should have some limitation, on the basis that a bigger module is not automatically a better module. Manufacturers should avoid gimmicks and not indulge in brand and concept hyperbole. It is essential that bold assumptions are carefully checked and challenged to avoid excessive risk taking leading to an infinite number of hidden dangers.
According to Zhenshuang Ji, deputy director of the China General Certification Center (an international photovoltaic certification and inspection body), an efficient power plant should combine high efficiency, safety and reliability. Among these, reliability is the crucial aspect, as a plant is expected to operate continuously from the system to the equipment. The design of module size should also consider all aspects of the industry chain, which is demand-driven rather than manufacturing-driven. The photovoltaic industry needs to put more emphasis on reliability. Efficiency is the goal, safety is the basis and reliability is the guarantee. All three are non-negotiable.
Dr. Jun Lv and Dr. Max Li of LONGi pointed out that industry analysts report that the overall market share of 182mm modules reached 56% this year, suggesting support for the idea that the efficiency cells rather than module size should be the priority. LONGi continues to focus on cost reduction and power increase, with the conversion efficiency of p-type HJT cells and indium-free HJT cells having already increased to 25.47% and 25.40% respectively this year.
In line with full life cycle standards, LONGi products fully integrate the upstream and downstream activities of the photovoltaic industry into their planning and design. Modules are carefully selected, production is strictly controlled, and after-sales support takes priority. Only with such an approach can PV modules achieve a life cycle of 20-30 years and be fully resistant to adverse weather conditions.
Specialists from universities and third-party institutions also expressed the view that the module is a crucial part of the PV industry chain, with its quality and safety being a top priority. The industry must pursue a long-term strategy that is not just a methodology, but also a value and, in some ways, a conviction. Creating long-term value benefits everyone.