Manufacturing News

Innovative solar panels cut costs, boost efficiency

Chinese solar photovoltaic manufacturer Znshine Solar has come up with a series of independently developed graphene-coated photovoltaic modules that improve efficiency and cut costs in converting light to electricity.

The modules, which have a thin layer of graphene made from a single layer of carbon atoms, allow light to pass through more easily, offering better efficiency in converting light to electricity, and reducing operating costs, according to the Jiangsu-province-based company.

Demand for photovoltaic products in China has witnessed rapid growth in the past few years, with cost per kilowatt hour of the electricity generated continuously reduced, said Wang Dong, technical and quality general manager of Znshine Solar.

According to Wang, the key for continuous success in the solar power sector does not lie in cheap labor, but in manufacturing innovation and advances in manufacturing technology to improve solar cells' performance and cut costs.

Cost reduction does not mean producing products that don't last as long or perform as well as solar cells made elsewhere, but seeding a next generation of technology, identifying promising technology and scaling it up, he said.

The series of graphene-coated photovoltaic modules was jointly developed by Znshine Solar and the University of Science and Technology of China.

Li Junfeng, former director and researcher at the National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, said innovation plays a key role in cutting cost per kilowatt hour of electricity, which in turns decides a company's success in the sector.

Li said China has become the world's largest green energy supplier, and the country is taking the lead in PV development and making a great contribution to the global energy transformation.

Top Chinese companies have been particularly good at identifying promising technologies and finding ways to produce them on a large scale, he added.

With unique electronic, optical and thermal properties, graphene has been listed as a new material of great significance for industrial development in the national science and technology innovation program for the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-20).

China has become one of the world's most dynamic innovators in the research and application of graphene technology, contributing more than half of the global patent applications in the sector, said the China Innovation Alliance of the Graphene Industry.

According to China's National Energy Administration, solar PV installations reached 52.83 GW in 2017, up from 34.54 GW in 2016, and accounting for about 50 percent of expected global solar demand last year.

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