Longi launches new solar module with 20% conversion efficiency

Chinese PV giant Longi has launched its newest solar module, the sleek-looking and high-efficiency Hi-MO X that boasts a conversion rate of 20 per cent.

The new module had its global launch in Melbourne on Monday night, in what looks like a strategic bet that Australia’s booming solar market will start to favour higher quality and yield panels, and as the “race to the bottom” on prices comes to an end.

The latest in mono-crystalline PERC technology also has a few ties to Australia on the R&D side of the equation, including the “shingle” design of the modules – first engineered by UNSW to adapt to the curves of the solar car it won the 1996 World Solar Challenge with.

As Longi explains, this design not only gives the panels a very low-key and sleek profile, but helps the modules achieve their leading front-side conversion efficiency of 20 per cent.

“An innovative design eliminates power losses caused by solder strip shading and a novel cell series-parallel circuit design significantly increases power generation performance in shaded conditions,” the company says.

“Additional benefits come from a low working current brought about by a cell string circuit design that reduces hot spots and effectively reduces hot spot temperatures.”

A further feature of the Hi-MO X modules are that they are the first to meet the Clean Energy Council’s “enhanced listings” criteria – a new standard designed by the CEC to encourage quality product choices by distributors and installers in the Australian solar market.

Sandy Pulsford, the CEC’s product specialist, said at the launch that encouraging a higher standard of PV panels in the Australian market was currently a key focus for the Clean Energy Council.

Pulsford said that the industry-wide “pushing of the price envelope” on solar PV production meant that some key components of modules were not lasting as long as they should.

A key example of this was currently being seen in solar backsheets – the last layer at the bottom of solar PV panels that has typically been made of a combination of polymers.

“Premature back sheet degradation can affect the whole industry,” Pulsford told the Longi launch on Monday night.

He said that studies had shown the defect rate of these solar panel backsheets to be significantly worse in hot climates, and among rooftop installations.

Longi, he added, were the first company to be meet the CEC’s new “MAST” backsheet durability requirement.

“(Longi) have undertaken to use only high quality backsheets on the Australian market,” Pulsford said.

“It’s very significant, and we’re very excited by it.”

For the Hi-MO X modules, Longi uses DuPont’s Tedlar as the backsheet material, which automatically prequalifies them for the CEC’s new MAST certification.

Longi says the panels, which come 400W (72-cell) and 350W (60-cell) peak power variants, are suitable for all roof-top installations.

Three leading PV companies, BayWa Australia, SolarJuice and SolarGain, have been appointed by Longi as the official distributors for Hi-MO X in Australia and have immediate access to the new product.

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