The dispute over the “size” of a piece of silicon has forced photovoltaic giants to offer “killer skills” one after another.

“It’s coming soon.” On June 3, Longji responded to the reporter of “China Business News” regarding the release date of the new 18Xmm photovoltaic module. Earlier, Longji had publicly disclosed that it would release the “Hi-MO5” (tentative) series of products with a module power of around 530W. It is understood that “Hi-MO5” is produced based on 18Xmm silicon wafers, and what number X represents is still a mystery.

In recent years, around the appeal of “cost reduction and efficiency gains and parity of Internet access”, the large-scale upsurge is periodically surging in the photovoltaic industry. In August last year, with the launch of 166mm silicon wafers and 210mm silicon wafers by both Longji and Zhonghuan, a single crystal “two males” formed a confrontation. When the 166mm industrial chain formed a prairie trend, Zhonghuan also ushered in the alliance of its downstream enterprises such as Dongfang Risheng and Trina Solar.

Just in May, JinkoSolar (JKS.US) and Jingao Technology have announced new products of 180mm modules. As Longji’s 18Xmm production capacity is gradually launched, the original confrontation situation seems to have evolved into “Jingjinglong” (Jinke Energy, Jingao Technology, Longji shares) and “Tiansheng Ring” (Tianhe Solar, Dongfang Risheng, Zhonghuan) two contests.

In the opinion of the industry, the trend of large-scale silicon wafers has promoted the iteration of new and old production capacity in the photovoltaic industry. The size selection and capacity planning layout of photovoltaic enterprises directly affect the success or failure of competition and affect the reshaping of the competitive landscape.

“Jingjinglong” struck in one step?

At the same time in May this year, JinkoSolar and Jingao Technology “cloud released” 180mm module series products named Tiger Pro and DeepBlue3.0, with module powers up to 580W and 525W+.

At the same time, Longji also publicly disclosed that it will release the “Hi-MO5” (tentative) series of products with a module power of about 530W, but the size of the silicon wafer has not been disclosed to the public.

Some people in the industry speculate that Longji will choose a size between 180mm and 182mm, which may be 181.75mm. There is also speculation that Longji shares may be holding back the big move, hoping that the products will be more differentiated and competitive.

However, despite the doubts, Jinko Energy, Jingao Technology and Longji shares launched new products so quickly, there may be pressure from the 210mm size camp “Tiansheng ring”.

“After Trina Solar and Dongfang Risheng have successively released new 500W+ components based on 210mm silicon wafers, JinkoSolar, Longji and Jingao Technology are still in a hurry.” Lei Zhang, the technical leader of a component company, told Our reporter.

According to reports, in the second half of 2019, JinkoSolar, Jingao Technology and Longji began to prepare new component products. The three companies communicated and verified several different size products after the 166mm size.

Jing Hao, Marketing Director of Jingao Technology, told reporters that our introduction of the 180mm size is determined by a combination of customer needs, production lines, technological upgrades and other comprehensive factors. Based on the current situation, the 210mm size is not the best choice.

Longji further explained to reporters that the final result of the size evolution still needs to be linked to the cost of electricity. Standing on the cost of pulling crystals and slicing, as well as the cost of batteries and components, as well as the impact on system cost, LONGi made a comprehensive analysis. The reason for defining the size of 18Xmm lies in the packaging size of container transportation. As the cost of component transportation is getting higher and higher, especially many overseas markets involve ocean transportation. The width of the component corresponding to 18Xmm is 1130mm, which is exactly the limit size of the packaging component standing upright and the two packaging boxes stacked together into the container.

However, why did the three companies choose a size between 180mm and 190mm? In the industry’s view, a very important practical reason is that it is limited to the slicing link, considering the asset depreciation cost.

“At present, the maximum cutting boundary of the three companies’ slicing machines is 190mm, so there is only a 180mm size product that is smaller than this boundary.” An industry veteran Mi Li told reporters that other sizes between 180mm and 190mm may follow.

Milli explained that as a vertically integrated enterprise, the three companies have a lot of burden on the slicing capacity, especially Longji. If you do not make 180mm or 18Xmm products, it is equivalent to the slicing capacity is directly abolished. For the entire company’s operating capital The impact is very large.

“Three companies investing in new production capacity this year should directly purchase supporting equipment of at least 210mm in size, and are compatible with 180mm or 18Xmm products downwards.” Millet analysis shows that from the perspective of the entire industrial chain, there is basically no need for major changes in the silicon wafer link. The component side is different. If you choose to upgrade from 166mm to 180mm or 18Xmm, you need to make major changes, the effect will not be particularly good, and the significance is not great.

It is understood that the initial planned production capacity of the three companies JinkoSolar, Jingao Technology and Longji Co. is 10GW, 14GW and 10GW, and mass production is expected to be achieved from August to September.

“Tiansheng ring” poised to climb

For the 210mm camp “Tiansheng ring”, whether it is 180mm or 18Xmm size products are just a transition.

Recently, all three companies have expressed the above views to reporters. “(‘Jingjinglong’) release of 180mm or 18Xmm size products is a commercial decision, and 210mm size is the trend of technological development.”

The reporter noted that since December 2019, Dongfang Risheng has released 500W power modules based on 210mm silicon wafers, and it has rapidly followed by new battery and component companies in 2020.

On January 11, Aishu (8.400, 0.36, 4.48%) (600732.SH), which took the lead in mass production of 210mm batteries, launched its product capacity plan for the next three years (2020-2022). Its planned high-efficiency crystalline silicon solar cell production capacity will reach 22GW by the end of 2020, 32GW by the end of 2021, and 45GW by the end of 2022, all planned based on the size of 166mm to 210mm.

At the same time, Tongwei shares (14.700, 0.74, 5.30%) (600438.SH) also accelerated the pace of expansion in the battery business. On February 11, the company issued an announcement on the investment and construction of an annual output of 30GW high-efficiency solar cells and supporting projects and the business development plan for high-purity crystalline silicon and solar cells from 2020 to 2023. Among them, the 30GW high-efficiency solar cell project will be put into production in 2021, and the specifications of the new production line will be fully compatible with 210mm and below.

Immediately after that, on February 27, the component company Trina Solar released 500W+ Extreme Module products. On March 19, it announced the production of the Extreme Module pilot line. For the 210mm module capacity planning, the reporter learned from the Trina Solar prospectus that the company plans to be about 10GW, 21GW and 31GW from 2020 to 2022 respectively.

Not only that, Trina Solar has also published a special white paper on supreme components, explaining technical issues, load performance, packaging, logistics, downstream applications and other issues, trying to add more companies to join the 210mm industry chain camp.

As a leader in 210mm products, Zhonghuan said in an interview with reporters on June 3 that the company plans to produce 210GW of silicon wafers with a capacity of 19GW in 2020 and a capacity of 45GW in the middle of next year or later. At the same time, Huansheng Photovoltaic, a subsidiary of Zhonghuan Holdings, already has a 2GW 210mm module capacity, and the 3GW capacity under construction is expected to reach capacity in the first quarter of next year.

However, the reporter noted that in the first half of 2020, shipments of components based on 210mm silicon wafers are still limited.

“It’s normal to have fewer shipments in the first half of this year. Enterprises are basically doing some product certification and infrastructure construction. The output should not exceed 4GW, and the production capacity will gradually climb significantly in the second half of the year.” Zhang Lei said.

This also means that “Jingjinglong” component products based on 180mm or 18Xmm silicon wafers and “Tianshenghuan” component products based on 210mm silicon wafers will all enter the market in batches in the second half of 2020 (after the third quarter). The forces formally collide and confront each other.

Reshape the competitive landscape?

At present, the 158.75mm size products still occupy the mainstream position in the photovoltaic market, and the market share of 166mm is also continuously increasing. With the continuous climbing of 210mm production capacity and the emergence of 180mm or 18Xmm production capacity, the photovoltaic market situation will change accordingly.

Milli predicts that there will be fewer and fewer 158.75mm products next year, and more and more 166mm products, and the market cycle of 180mm or 18Xmm should appear in the next two years. Subsequently, starting from 2023, 210mm products will occupy a large proportion of the market share, and may also exceed the expected development.

According to the sales forecast of Longji shares, the trend is relatively similar. “Longji expects that 166mm wafers will account for more than 70% of total shipments this year. Hi-MO5 will account for about 10% of Lungi’s module shipments in terms of module shipments. By 2021, Lungi’s Hi-MO5, Hi-MO MO4 (166mm component products) will form a 3:7 sales ratio respectively.”

Milli also believes that JinkoSolar, Jingao Technology and Longji Co., Ltd. have relatively speaking rights, and now they are launching 180mm or 18Xmm components simultaneously, and have slight advantages in power cost and power, and product promotion may be easier. “About the overall market progress of 210mm, we need to pay attention to the expansion plans of various companies. If there is more new capacity, the 210mm market will advance faster.”

From the perspective of the downstream terminal of the power station, whether large-size components can be promoted and applied also needs to meet the requirements in terms of cost and production capacity. Huixing, director of the Resource and General Plan Institute of the New Energy Engineering Institute of Northwest Survey and Design Institute of China Power Construction (3.480, 0.03, 0.87%) Group, told reporters, “In general, the design institute will integrate product prices and production capacity according to the requirements of the owners. Situation, design different design schemes, which one has better cost, higher power generation capacity, and rank the best. For new capacity, if there is not enough capacity, there is no way to incorporate the design scheme.”

So, will the emergence of 180mm or 18Xmm components block the 210mm market? In this regard, Trina Solar insiders told reporters that this first depends on how much they produce; secondly, it depends on the speed and cost of the 210mm camp enterprises. If the speed and cost can be reached, it cannot be blocked. In fact, for the 210mm platform, it is easy to achieve 530W and even 600W components.

Faced with such a “fight” situation, the industry began to call for the establishment of standards to end the complicated size dispute. However, companies seem to be in no hurry to draw conclusions about the possibility of large-scale bursts.

Longji believes that the size standard is determined by the market on the one hand, and by the boundary conditions (conditions that affect the cost of electricity) on the other hand, the size of the silicon wafer is not as large as possible. The development of the industry is always progressing step by step, and there will be some new changes in the boundary conditions that affect the size design in the future, causing the size to change accordingly.

The above-mentioned Trina Solar insiders also said, “Don’t talk about the ultimate size, it will change with the progress of technology. At present, referring to the development stage of semiconductors, 210mm will be a relatively stable size in the next 3 to 5 years.”

In fact, the accelerated switching of enterprises in different-size tracks not only promoted the industry’s cost reduction and efficiency increase, but also accelerated the arrival of the parity Internet and even the low-price era; it also promoted the iteration of new and old production capacity and accelerated the survival of the fittest in the market.

“In this round of competition, it may be more embarrassing for companies that do not have the conditions to plan new production capacity. Outdated production capacity will be quickly eliminated by the market. At present, the overall industry concentration is getting higher and higher, and eventually every link will be concentrated in 3 ~5 companies. Recently, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has released the “Conditions and Conditions for Photovoltaic Manufacturing Industry (2020 Version)” draft for consultation, which will also accelerate the formation of this trend.” Milli believes.

Of course, some companies hope to break through the “size machine” and reshape the status of the competitive landscape. Milli said that Trina Solar could return to the country for listing, hoping to use the 210mm concept product trend to regain its lost status as a mountain. The 210mm East Risen team also hopes to rush forward and enter the top five positions in the world. They all require representative label products.