JinkoSolar has announced three solar cell efficiency records since early October. This most recent record is an extension of the one-upmanship of October 24th-25th when LONGi announced a monoPERC record at 22.71% and JinkoSolar followed up with a 22.78% record.
Today’s efficiency announcement of 23.45% is a full 2.9% increase over two weeks ago.
JinkoSolar is the highest volume solar panel manufacturer in the world. The announcement was made at the 19th China International Industry Fair (CIIF). The specific solar cell type is a ‘P-type monocrystalline PERC.’ The solar cell was tested by the ‘Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Photovoltaic and Wind Power System Quality Test Center.’
A comment from Kangping Chen, CEO of JinkoSolar –
“World records have been shattered again and again at JinkoSolar as the company has broken five world records in cell and module efficiency just this year. Now with assistance of intelligent manufacturing, we can translate these world record learnings into mass production, which will undoubtedly make a big splash in the market.’
JinkoSolar pushed hard that their manufacturing processes, adhering to the principles of ‘Industry 4.0’, were as important as the solar cell record efficiencies. As part of the press announcement, JinkoSolar gave credit to their “Intelligent Manufacturing” innovations, which is partially inspired by the “Made in China 2025” initiative. These include: robotic workstations, traceable QA capabilities, improved workflow efficiency, optimized material transportation, and advanced data analytics. JinkoSolar says, ‘integration has revolutionized fab operations from “Automated” to “Intelligent”, allowing the company to achieve greater efficiency, flexibility and quality, maximize cost effectiveness, and accelerate overall innovation.’
These fast-moving records are partially a technological push as well some great PR timing. My guess is that JinkoSolar’s October 25th record announcement was of an efficiency record they had in their pocket, and LONGi kinda beat them to the punch with their announcement. However, it is probable that JinkoSolar’s labs have many scientists working many technical pathways to improve efficiency. Without me knowing exactly what techniques were used to move the efficiency forward 2.9% in a few weeks, my assumptions are simply that.
The National Renewable Energy Lab updates the below chart with the leading solar panel efficiencies of different technologies. If you look at the chart for single crystal non-concentrator solar efficiencies (that’s the mono product we’re talking about) – we see that some groups hit record efficiencies back in the mid-1990s that seemed to have mostly flat lined. And since the 1990s, we’ve not seen those products outside of the most expensive, low volume situations that have no real effect.
As I said in a prior article about JinkoSolar hitting a different record back in earlier October, I’m very excited that it is actually JinkoSolar who is setting this record. Their smart factory innovations noted above, them being the highest volume solar panel manufacturer on the planet, and that some of these newest technologies are already running on 100MW production lines shows me that we could see an aggressive arms race in solar panel efficiencies across the industry as the competition fights to keep up and scale up.