Why half-cut solar cells make a smart addition to the PV world

As demand for PV products continue to surge, solar module manufacturers have continued innovating their offerings. From smart PV solutions to passivated emitted rear cell (PERC) modules, these new products provide more options for end users to optimize their solar PV systems and expedite return on investment.

Another recent development in the evolution of PV technology has been the introduction of PV modules with half-cut cell. These innovative new options for solar PV systems have the potential to further boost power output and reduce overall costs.


What is a half-cut cell PV module?

In a traditional silicon cell-based PV module, the ribbons interconnecting neighboring cells can cause a significant loss of power during the current transport. Cutting solar cells in half has been proven to be an effective way to lower resistive power loss.

The half-cut cells generate half the current of a standard cell, reducing resistive losses in the interconnection of solar modules. Less resistance between the cells increases the power output of a module. Solar Power World Online has noted half-cut cells can potentially boost power output between 5 to 8 W per module, depending on the design.

With a higher power output on module that costs relatively similar, it speeds up ROI. This makes the cells a great idea for end users who want a quicker turnaround on their investment.

After conducting a series of tests of half-cut and PERC solar cells in a large-area PV module during in a controlled environment, the Institute for Solar Energy Research Hamelin broke the previous record for module efficiency and peak power output, PV-Tech reported. While they're not the only organization performing ground-breaking work on half-cut cells, the record, which was independently confirmed by TUV Rheinland, demonstrates the viability of using these modules to bring PV development to its most advanced and lowest cost yet.

Because of its performance gains, many companies have already switched to half-cut designs, which should further increase market share for these PV products.


What's the benefit of a half-cut solar cell?

While the solar module comprises the most costly component of a total solar system, technological advancements have contributed a significant drop in prices with further declines anticipated in the coming years. From 2015 to 2016, the price of solar panels dropped nearly 40 percent on average, according to recent research from International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaics.

Despite these price improvements, the panels still constitute roughly 45 percent of the total cost of a PV system. However, experts expect this to fall to 29 percent by 2027. The reasoning behind these estimates stem from the introduction of innovative new technology, processes and solutions that boost efficiency, increase power output and improve performance gains. Combined, these factors are contributed to help lower the overall prices of solar PV systems. Half-cut solar cells are part of a revolutionary new breed of PV technologies working in concert bringing down the module price tag.

The ITRPV study found that the market of half cells will surge to approximately 35 percent in 2017, up from 2 percent in 2016. In conjunction with other smart solar solutions, such as multi-busbar technology or optimizers, these innovations continue to actively contribute to lower energy costs while simultaneously improving system performance.

Click here to learn more about Trina Solar's Splitmax modules, which utilize half-cut solar cell technology.

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