Interview with Trina Solar on BNEF Summit Shanghai 2019

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PV Magazine: we know Trina is a promoter of bifacial panel would you please give a brief about Trina’s view of bifacial panels.

Rongfang: As the pioneer of bifacial technology, Trina saw clearly the great potential of bifacial panel over previous products in Levelized Cost of Energy (LCoE) reduction and Return of Investment (ROI) increase and has been taking the lead in R&D and mass production. Trina devoted lots of efforts refining product structure, optimizing installation and improving manufacturing yield. With currently less than USD$0.05/W extra cost, which is becoming less and less and may be negligible in future, bifacial panel provides averagely around 8-10% more power output. In some particular environment such as desert of Middle East, stronger ground reflection make this figure as high as 15% or even more. Besides, bifacial panel with two sides of glass provides better adaptability for panels to different environments, not only in traditional temperate area, but also to torrid and rain forest areas. Furthermore, bifacial panel provides higher possibility for overlay of multiple technologies, such as overlay tracker. Therefore we believe the bifacial panel will be a better choice for PV utilization and a new trend for coming future.

PV Magazine: how do you see about the market shift to bifacial panel?

Rongfang: For Trina’s shipment, I think around 50% of total shipment in 2020 will be bifacial products. For shares of regional markets, we estimate bifacial will take at least 40% of US market in 2020. In Middle East and Australia almost all new orders are for bifacial now. And next big shift will happen in Europe along with the rejuvenation of Spain and Germany markets. In China, the shift occurred very quickly because of the policy changed from FIT to auction system and more pressure of cost reduction was raised to the industry. In production aspects, all production lines of Trina is now adaptable to both single and bifacial panels and we can shift according to customer’s orders. Multiple financial analysis from different kinds of projects showed clearly that bifacial panel plus tracker is the best solution for cost reduction in a PV project which aiming non-subsidy or grid parity target.

PV Magazine: despite of bifacial, what other technology Trina deployed on its module product?

Rongfang: Trina has invested much on almost all mainstream new technology for future PV cells such as N-type, P-Type PERC, TOPCon. Refer to wafer size, currently we focus on 158.75mm and 166mm sizes but in future we see great potential of 210mm. According to our research and analysis, we believe 210mm will bring significant reduction to wafer and cell manufacturing cost, and result in not only module power increase but also better electricity performance. On module we use the multi-bus bar technology, now is 9 BB, along with half-cut for better performance of PV module. We are thinking about the stacking technology and etc. Anyway, after entering into the 400+ era, we will see very soon another new era of 500+ for a single piece of PV panel.

PV Magazine: how do you think about sizes of 166mm and 210mm in future applications?

Rongfang: We know 210mm sizes wafer will bring more cost reduction. We did internal calculation for the cost happened in equipment investment, cost change in manufacturing of wafer, cell and cost reduction for labor, electrical equipment and all BOS, and we find the 166mm will generate CNY0.05-0.08/W cost reduction. However this figure will much bigger if 210mm size wafer is adopted. And as for the flexibility of module installation , the 50 pcs cells with 210mm size is quite alike of 72 pcs with 166mm size, and if the dimensions and weight is within scope of the EPC technical specifications, I don’t think that’ll be a problem.

PV Magazine: what is Trina planning for Solar + Storage?

Rongfang: you know we did a lot of preliminary research work for storage, we aim a long-term plan of 2 GWh. However because of the storage cost is still high, we believe there is a long way for this to go. Our estimation is in future the general cost of storage will slowly decrease in a yearly speed of 9%, which is much lower than PV panel did. And in around 2025, the storage market will start a real booming and into mass applications. Policy support is essential for storage market, but we didn’t see clear and supportive policies promulgated to this area. Besides, the overly touted funding from capital market did no good to this market. The industry needs orderly development, high-quality R&D and safety management of products. The battery management system (BMS) of storage is another crucial aspect for high-quality storage service which we did lots of research work and gained rich experience.

PV Magazine: what is the focus in Trina’s globalization?

Rongfang: the general business strategy of Trina is providing customers with from products, product integration to business solutions according to different needs from different customers. Currently our solution sector focuses on Europe, Latin America and emerging markets like Vietnam. For our product integration sector, we focus on US, Latin America, Australia and Europe. And of course we target our panel business globally. Besides the sales and marketing, we treat Europe our important technical source. For example, we acquired a tracker company of Spain and integrated it into our product portfolio and solution system. In management we have not only China HQ, but also another global headquarter set up in Singapore. Personally I prefer the word of globalization to internationalization. Because the internalization means merely with business outside of your country, but the globalization means integration of your business of all the countries, including capital, market, human resources, manufacturing, supply chain, logistics and etc. During the process, one of the most important factors is an appropriate corporate culture which to attract all the employees with different nationalities, cultures, and religions to the corporate target together. Mr. Gao Jifan, the founder of Trina Solar, intended to build a platform for those from all over the world to work together, to exert his talent and realize his own dream.

PV Magazine: the unexpected installation decline of 2019 caused troubles to China PV manufacturers, how Trina comments this?

Rongfang: yes the released installation figure exceeds most predictions at the beginning of the year and is indeed low. But we believe this will only influence those companies which relies on China domestic market. For those companies with global channel & brand influence like Trina Solar, we suffered only a little because our majority market lies on overseas market and benefit from the rejuvenation of traditional European market, we have quite good business. Furthermore, the shock will eliminate some players and increase the market concentration which I believe is better for the industry to move forward more orderly.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect those held by pv magazine.