2023 Brings Opportunities for the Utility-Scale Solar Sector
Despite disruptions, uncertainty, and ever-shifting regulations, the utility-scale solar sector again proves its mettle as industry analysts forecast another promising year.
From Oct. 2021 to Oct. 2022, utility-scale solar experienced a 31.5% increase in year-over-year net generation (per 1000 megawatt-hours), according to the latest data from the Energy Information Agency (EIA). With renewable energy resources expected to provide 25% of the country’s electricity in 2023, this key sector will play a critical role in achieving the country’s decarbonization goals.
Aside from storms demonstrating both the need for and benefits of highly reliable utility-scale solar modules, other factors are creating opportunities for project developers and EPCs, including:
Growing module reliability importance
Increasing n-type i-TOPCon solar module production
Easing supply chain constraints
PV Module Reliability Playing a Larger Role in Utility Solar Installations
Hurricane Ian knocked out power for nearly 2.7 million customers in late September and early October 2022, raising questions about the need for more resilient energy resources. However, one of the state’s largest utility providers said the destruction impacted only 0.3% of the company’s nearly 15 million solar panels. Thirty-eight of the company’s solar systems located directly in Ian’s path experienced little to no damage.
The hurricane underscores the importance of highly reliable utility-scale solar systems, particularly in a state prone to natural disasters. Especially as meteorologists forecast an increase in both the frequency and severity of hurricanes in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico — regions with high irradiance levels, making them ripe for utility-scale solar installations.
Developers and EPCs working in hurricane-prone areas need PV modules with proven mechanical performance during extreme weather events. Trina Solar’s 210mm Vertex 670W modules consistently demonstrate excellent performance during third-party advanced serial load tests, including extreme wind tunnel testing. The test results highlight that the 670W Vertex modules not only generate super-high power but also possess excellent reliability and can maintain their outstanding performance in the face of a hurricane.
TOPCon Solar Module Production Increasing
Utility-scale project developers and EPCs continue showing a growing interest in PV modules using tunnel oxide passivated contact technology called TOPCon. There’s little question why since TOPCon technology improves the traditional PERC solar cell efficiency and lowers degradation to deliver more power for longer.
But as demand increases in response to this growing interest, many developers and EPCs might start wondering whether manufacturers’ supplies can keep pace.
In 2022, TOPCon shipments were around 20 GW, with a market share of approximately 7%. Industry analysts expect these numbers to increase in 2023, reaching 60 GW in shipment levels and market shares of 20%. And looking ahead to 2024, TOPCon will likely reach shipment levels beyond 100 GW and a market share of 30%.
As the first mover of 210mm modules, Trina Solar recently put 210mm n-type capacity into mass production, reinforcing the company’s competitiveness with next-generation n-type cell technology. Refining 210mm products and n-type technology will improve efficiency and cut costs.
Ideal for utility-scale projects, Trina Solar’s Vertex N has a maximum output of 695 W and an efficiency level of 22.4% and will be widely available to meet the growing demand.
Supply Chain Issues Easing
The Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) Q4 2022 Solar Market Insight Report noted that solar installations accounted for 45% of all new electricity-generating capacity to the US grid between January and September 2022. This growth rate happened despite supply chain constraints and exceeded the installation rate of every other electricity source. Furthermore, the report noted that solar panel import shipments should return to normal by the second half of 2023.
However, it’s important to note that utility-scale solar projects were more likely to be impacted by supply chain disruptions than residential solar projects because of the difference in overall project components required for each. By easing the disruptions to supply chain constraints, utility-scale solar developers, financiers, and EPCs are the first to benefit.
The Solar Market Insight Report noted that once supply chain disruptions are solved, the utility-scale solar market is forecasted to install 150 GW by 2027, with annual installations ranging between 30-40 GW.
TrinaPro Utility Solutions Backs All Outlooks
From higher power gains to lower levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), the TrinaPro Solar Solution provides an all-in-one smart energy solution to turn utility-scale solar opportunities into reality. TrinaPro enhances the already-optimistic view of supply chain logistics in 2023 by streamlining the procurement process for project developers and EPCs to mitigate supply-chain and installation risks and increase project value.
2023 is a year of opportunities for utility-scale solar, and we want to partner with you to make the most of them.
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