Mono-crystalline modules beginning to gain acceptance in India

23 May 2019 |

The mono-crystalline module market has finally started gaining traction in India. In April 2019, ReNew announced commissioning of its 300 MW solar project using mono-crystalline modules in Pavagada solar park, Karnataka. Other utility scale project developers including Mahindra and Amplus have also started deploying mono-crystalline modules. Some rooftop solar contractors and developers are also believed to be considering mono-crystalline modules for their installations.

Key advantages of mono-crystalline modules include higher efficiency (1-1.5% higher than multi-crystalline), lower BOS costs, better space utilization, longer panel life, superior heat tolerance, improved performance and aesthetics.

Worldwide, the modules market has already made significant progress in transition to high efficiency modules including mono-crystalline modules. The US, Europe, Japan and even China (financial incentives available for use of high efficiency modules under the Top Runner programme) have been quick to adopt these products. Leading module manufacturers are also rapidly upgrading their capacities. In China, the world’s biggest module manufacturer, mono-crystalline modules accounted for 46% share of total module production in 2018. This share is estimated to go up to 57% in 2019[1]. Longi, which produces only mono-crystalline modules, is ramping up its capacity from 8.8 GW in 2018 to 16 GW in 2019[2]. Most of the top-tier suppliers including Jinko, Canadian Solar, Trina and JA Solar are also planning to shift majority of their portfolio to mono-crystalline products over the next 1-2 years. As production of mono-crystalline modules ramps up, supply of legacy modules is expected to shrink over time.

In India, mono-crystalline acceptance has been low because of the significant price premium (USD 3-4 cents, or about 15-20%) over vanilla multi-crystalline modules. The Indian market is hyper-sensitive to prices. The price gap needs to fall to about 1 cent to offset savings in other capital costs and output gains for higher adoption of mono-crystalline modules. We believe that this scenario is about 2-3 years away. We estimate the share of mono-crystalline modules to go up from 6% in 2018 to 22% in 2019 and 80% by 2021.

Figure: Mono-crystalline module share in India

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