ITRPV tenth edition: Module prices fell almost a third in 2018

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From pv magazine Germany.

The price of PV modules fell more than 30% last year, according to the tenth International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaics (ITRPV) report, published by German engineering body the Verband Deutscher Maschinen und Anlagenbau (VDMA).

The report found the average spot market price for a representative mix of multi and monocrystalline modules stood at $0.354/W in January 2018, and had fallen to $0.244 two months ago.

The contribution of polysilicon and wafer production to the overall cost of PV modules fell from 19% to 14% for each segment. By contrast, the contribution of cell and module production costs to the overall price of products rose from 21% to 26% and 40% to 46%, respectively.

According to the VDMA, the market situation is extremely difficult for cell and module makers, due to the continuing repercussions of China’s 31/5 policy decision to rein in public subsidies for solar. China installed around 40 GW of new PV capacity in 2018, having hit the 53 GW mark a year earlier – in a record year for solar. The ITRPV findings estimate a global production capacity for PV modules of 150 GW last year, and calculate tier 1 manufacturers achieved 80% capacity utilization while their smaller, tier 2 rivals languished by making use of only around half their production capacity.

Module output on the rise

The ITRPV report also noted an increase in average module performance last year, thanks to consistent implementation of PERC technology and other improvements, as well as the use of improved materials.

The report’s authors also claim the PV learning curve – the percentage drop in product price for every doubling of production capacity – rose to 23.2%, a rate the analysts say could be maintained by the industry if cost cutting measures continue to be linked to improved performance. The roadmap cites improved wafer quality, larger wafers, improved layouts, improved cell surfaces, bifacial cell concepts and improvements at module level as examples of the measures undertaken and required.

The ITRPV analysts predict that by 2029, average 60-cell module output will reach 325 W for multicrystalline PERC, 345 W for mono-PERC and 350 W for n-type. That means, 144 half-cell modules are expected to achieve outputs of 400 W for multi-PERC, 420 W for mono-PERC and 430 W for n-type modules in ten years’ time.