Why 210mm Standardization in the Solar Industry is Crucial for Meeting Decarbonization Goals

To meet ambitious decarbonization targets set by federal, state, and local governments, the U.S. needs access to as many watts of PV capacity as it can install. Despite PV capacity growth surging each year, the current pace still lags far behind what the country should be installing to keep pace with achieving its goal for solar to account for 30% of electricity generation by 2030. 

Standardization of the PV industry around 210mm technology provides the most promising route for addressing the urgency to accelerate solar power adoption. 

Good PV Capacity Growth, But Not Good Enough

Over the past decade, renewable electrical production grew less than one percent annually, from 13.75% in the first four months of 2011 to 22.5% during the first four months of 2021. The U.S. added 27.7 GW of renewable energy capacity in 2021 — good enough for the second-largest year on record — but it's only 45% of what's required to stay on track for an emissions-free power sector.

To reach its 30% solar target, the country must increase annual solar installations from the current average of roughly 30 GWdc, up to more than 48 GWdc annually. Attaining this growth rate means the solar industry needs to deploy more than 700 GWdc over the next ten years to hit 850 GWdc — a 130% increase above the forecast from SEIA's Q4 2021 U.S. Solar Market Insight report.

Although this target might seem out of reach, there are immediate steps the industry can take to ramp up PV capacity installations. One such measure involves standardization around 210mm technology.

210mm PV Technology: Better LCOE, Longer Runway

Several factors make 210mm technology the best option for the solar industry to standardize around.

The first benefit of 210mm technology is a lower levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) because of higher power output than the industry average and innovative half-cut cell technology. These features mean a PV system requires fewer 210mm modules and balance-of-system (BOS) components to reach the same energy generation as a system with modules using smaller cell sizes. 

210mm PV technology also has a much longer runway than other large-format modules (LFMs) since going any larger leads to diminishing returns. Bigger cells mean bigger modules, which means raw materials cost increases and a lack of component compatibility, which don’t make economic sense. Meanwhile, standardization around 210mm wafer sizes will speed up installations times due to the widespread compatibility of major components.

Additionally, standardization benefits the entire upstream and downstream PV supply chain. The move to standardize around 210mm technology would improve production efficiency, optimize procurement, and drive greater technological innovation while reducing the cost of supply chain manufacturing and the initial investment of PV systems. 

These benefits collectively will help the industry achieve not just grid parity but grid prominence by delivering the value and scalability needed to meet the country’s urgent and ambitious renewable energy target.

Although standardization around 210mm technology will help the industry scale faster while delivering the lowest LCOE, this won’t happen without a significant industry push in the right direction. That’s why Trina Solar leads the industry in investing in and organizing PV companies to standardize the solar supply chain around 210mm technology. 

Many major solar manufacturers and solutions providers, led by Trina Solar, joined together to form the 600W+ PV Open Innovation Ecological Alliance. The alliance allows for greater collaboration, coordination, and sharing of ideas amongst its members. It represents the first instance of a wide swath of upstream and downstream PV companies collectively calling for industry-wide standardization of a specific wafer size.

Further, recent third-party assessments show that the 210mm 600W+ Vertex modules deliver the lowest LCOE and CAPEX. These savings can further incentivize more PV capacity growth since developers and EPCs can offer even more value to utilities and financiers requesting proposals for solar projects.

Want to learn more about the benefits of 210mm PV technology? Contact us today.

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