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2017 Solar Panel Market Single Crystal Surpasses Polycrystalline For The First Time
- May 08, 2018 -

"Single crystal" share rose to 49%

In 2017, the shipment of “monocrystalline silicon” solar panels surpassed “polysilicon” for the first time. Solar PV market survey and consulting firm spv came to this conclusion in the solar power market report released in December 2017.

In early 2000, Japanese companies such as Sharp, Kyocera, and Mitsubishi Electric were leading companies in the solar power market. At that time, the mainstream component (panel) was a polysilicon type. At the time, although the monocrystalline silicon type was highly efficient, the inexpensive polysilicon type showed its advantages in price competition. However, afterwards, the "single crystal type" gradually expanded its market share and eventually took the championship.

According to the report, in 2017, the production of solar cells (power generation components) was 97.7 GW, of which shipments were 93.8 GW, and its installation capacity was 95.1 GW. According to the analysis of the share of the component types, the market share of the single-crystalline silicon type is 49%, the polycrystalline silicon type is 46%, and the compound-type cadmium telluride (CDTE) type is 3% in the shipment of 93.8GW.


Solar Panel Production by World Photovoltaic Power Market in 2017 (Production Volume)

"Super" component launch

The polysilicon market share in 2016 was 54%, which was 13% higher than that of single crystal and remained the leading position. However, by 2017, the share of single crystal silicon type is 3 percentage points higher than that of polycrystalline type, which is the first reversal.


Market Share Trends of Solar Panel Types and World PV Market Types (2006 - 2017)

The report believes that the main reason for the increase in the monocrystalline silicon market share is that component manufacturers have already switched to high-end components. One of them is the p-type single-crystal silicon "emitter and backside passivation cell technology (PERC)" that module manufacturers began mass production in 2016. The commercial production of PERC was expanded in 2017, and the efficiency was improved while the price was lowered, contributing to the increase in market share.

In 2015, Sunbackower's "Back Contact (IBC)", Panasonic's Heterojunction (HIT) solar panels, and South Korea's LG solar panels showed high prices in the market. In addition, there is an increasing market demand for panels using n-type monocrystalline silicon with high conversion efficiency.

In 2016, P-type monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar cell capacities are shifting significantly to PERC technology. “The drop in price occurred in the third quarter of 2013. The high price of the n-type solar cell prompted solar cell manufacturers to switch to the p-type single crystal silicon type.” said Paula Mintz, chief market research analyst and founder of SPV Market Research.

"n-type" versus "p-type" results?

Mintz pointed out that the production of n-type monocrystalline silicon requires high-quality materials and silver paste, which makes the production cost more expensive than other technologies. The competition in the photovoltaic power generation industry has always been based on price, and radical price setting is considered as a common competitive means. “Although we will further increase the share of n-type monocrystalline silicon with high conversion efficiency, we will not occupy the highest share.”

In addition, the single-crystal silicon type "n-type" module has a 38% share of the shipment and the remaining 62% is a "p-type." Although the market share of “n-type” and “p-type” in 2017 has not yet been disclosed, it is expected that the market share of “p-type” will increase significantly.

According to Mr. Mintz, at present, the first shipment of n-type single crystal silicon panels is the US sunpower company, but South Korean companies are expanding their market share.

It is understood that the current production of p-type single-crystal silicon panel is ranked first in China's Jinko Energy. On November 8, 2017, the company announced that P-type single-crystal PERC solar cells have reached the world's highest conversion efficiency of 23.45%. According to the company’s spokesperson, PERC is becoming a mature technology and it is expected that the scale of production will further expand in 2018.