Solar PV technology trends: Trends towards larger module sizes
As solar technology continues to evolve, there has been a trend towards larger module sizes, and this trend is driving the solar industry in new and exciting directions. Here, we will explore the drivers and benefits of this trend, as well as the potential risks that come with it.
Drivers & Benefits
The most significant driver of larger module sizes is the increase in wafer/cell size. As cells get larger, it allows for larger module sizes, which in turn leads to increased power output. Larger active areas of cells and improved cell-to-module (CTM) power ratio means more power can be produced per unit of area. This results in fewer modules being required to achieve the same energy output, reducing costs and installation time.
Additionally, larger modules also offer benefits in terms of improved performance in challenging weather conditions, such as high winds or hail. With a larger module size, there is less risk of damage to the cells in these conditions, and it also allows for the junction box position and wiring pattern to be changed, potentially improving shade tolerance.
While there are numerous benefits to larger module sizes, there are also potential risks that must be considered. With larger modules, there is an increased risk of cell breakage due to weather, shipping, handling, and installation. Additionally, the increased weight of larger modules presents new challenges in terms of handling and mounting structure design, as well as electrical balance of the system.
Furthermore, the increase in electrical current required by larger modules must be accounted for in the system’s wire size, fusing, and bypass diodes. Finally, new testing equipment is required to accommodate larger modules, such as dynamic mechanical loading (DML) to assess hail damage and inform insurance coverage.
Module Size Increase Over the Last Decade
Over the last decade, there has been a significant increase in module size. In 2010, the standard module size was around 1.6 square meters, with power outputs ranging from 200-240 Wp. By 2021, the standard module size had increased to around 2.0-2.2 square meters, with power outputs ranging from 360-400 Wp. This increase in module size and power output has been made possible through advances in manufacturing technology, such as larger wafer and cell sizes.
|Year||Average Module Size (m2)||Module Efficiency (%)|
The average size of PV modules has increased from 1.6 m2 in 2010 to 2.7 m2 in 2020, while module efficiency has increased from 12.5% to 22.5% over the same period.
Larger module sizes are driving the solar industry forward, with their potential to reduce costs and installation time, as well as improved performance in challenging weather conditions. However, with the benefits come risks, such as increased weight, electrical current, and potential cell breakage. Overall, the trend towards larger module sizes is a positive one, and as technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even larger and more efficient modules in the future.