Álvaro García-Maltrás
President of Latin America and the Caribbean
Trina Solar
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View from the Top

Dedication and Exceeding Expectations in Mexico's PV Market

Wed, 02/21/2018 - 10:53

Q: What is your assessment of the design and evolution of the long-term electricity auctions?

A: The level of participation and price levels resulting from the auctions allow us to consider them as highly successful. Significant competitive levels were attained and the participation of different local and international players was such that the preliminary projects presented close to triple the awarded power levels. 

It should be highlighted that PV solar technology has consolidated as the most successful during these auctions thanks in part to its ease of installment, competitiveness, reduced environmental impact and reliability. Auction results confirm it is viable to significantly increase the weight of renewable energy in the country’s national energy mix without sacrificing its competitiveness nor service quality. Adding to this the feasibility of much quicker initial operation time for solar generation plants compared to other conventional technologies enables the country to adapt supply to demand efficiently.

Another element worthy of note is the fact that the results obtained in these auctions have also served to promote different private initiatives by electricity consumers that have decided to bet on this type of technology, especially PV solar, to guarantee its long-term electricity supply in economically-competitive conditions and active contribution to the environment’s protection. The auction system has shown the convenience of investing in these new clean energy-producing technologies. This message has been sent to diverse economic sectors in Mexico, resulting in a significant increase in their use for other applications, such as energy supply contracts with private consumers or residential, commercial and industrial installations, to name a few.

Q: How is Trina Solar's manufacturing plant project going?

A: Trina Solar is a PV solar energy leader worldwide. It is always part of our strategy to actively contribute to solar market development wherever the conditions are present to guarantee investments. Globally, the paradigm of the PV market in 2017 has been quite special compared to the last five years. Demand is higher than expected and the supply of raw materials compliant with the quality standards Trina Solar requires is limited. This particular context has impacted diverse agents across the global value chain, which is why Trina Solar is waiting for this situation to stabilize and provide the certainty required to carry out its next strategic investments.

Q: How did Trina Solar break its previous solar cell efficiency record?

A: Trina Solar is quite proud of these technological milestones. In fact, since 2011, our company has broken the solar cell efficiency world record 16 times, improving its own track record on several occasions. These breakthroughs are obtained not only with significant investments in R&D that Trina Solar allocates every year, but also, and more importantly, by following a philosophy of excellence, dedication and improvement that is highly ingrained at all levels of our company. Only with continuous and consistent dedicated efforts toward improving every day can we remain in a position of leadership in a technology-intensive industry such as solar PV. Top-tier technology is a major component in the added value Trina Solar offers.

Q: What other key areas are you developing through your R&D department besides solar cell efficiency?

A: Trina Solar has its very own R&D Center, certified by major international conglomerates TÜV Rheinland and UL as well as an elite scientific team, which among other achievements has contributed to Trina Solar patenting 795 products and solutions. Our company works tirelessly in developments facilitating the access of PV solar technology, which in our understanding will benefit humanity in providing a competitive, efficient and clean energy solution. It is in that spirit that Trina Solar is developing new products and improvements over those existing to date. Pertaining to solar modules, we are advancing in new technologies, conferring them added resistance and reliability, such as double-crystal modules, as well as lighter models for specific applications or even equipped with more advanced power electronics to be able to monitor each module individually and optimize its production.

Our new Trina Twin bifatial modules stand out from our recent developments, being able to generate energy from both sides of the module, taking advantage not only of direct solar irradiation but also its reflection on the ground or other surfaces on the back side of the module. It uses the same space but provides higher electricity generation. Additionally, Trina Solar is progressing in the design, manufacture and commercialization of batteries for energy storing purposes.

Q: How do Trina Solar’s products deal with solar power’s intermittency?

A: Based on our experience, the first measure to mitigate this effect is ensuring the module works under perfect conditions, maximizing production when the solar resource is present. To that effect, we apply different strategies such as increasing the number of bus bars (BB) to evacuate generated energy, up to 12BB per cell string. Should one of them prove faulty, another can direct the current and avoid energy loss. We are also implementing “half-cell cut” technology, which not only increases module efficiency, but also its energy production when partial shading is present.

Trina Solar is likewise deeply dedicated to reducing product degradation through time as much as possible. With that in mind, our modules are more robust, made up of a double-crystal sandwich protecting solar cells on both sides. They have a power guarantee of up to 30 years, a rare trait for this kind of product. The especiallyadvanced power electronics provided by our TRINA SMART product portfolio also contribute to maximizing a PV system’s energy production by helping each module work optimally, independently from those to which it is connected in a series. Trina Solar has a division dedicated to the design, manufacture and commercialization of batteries, an important solution that impacts considerably the intermittency of solar resources. This equipment offers an ideal solution to maximize energy-use generated by PV modules, making Trina Solar a leader in offering highquality, integral solutions that answer to our clients’ needs.

Q: What recent success stories can Trina Solar tell in Mexico?

A: There are several success cases we could mention but we would like to highlight our Jalisco I solar park. Located 68km south of Guadalajara, the MIREC 2017 award winner has 8MW of installed capacity, generated by 25,536 DUOMAX solar panels made up of 72 borderless cells. Incorporating Trina Solar’s innovation seal, the panels can supply electricity to an average 16,000 households of social interest and the park is contributing to the environment as one solar panel can reduce up to 300kg of CO2 per year. By those calculations, Jalisco I will be reducing over 7,660 tons of CO2 per year. This solar park is owned by Fortius, a 100 percent Mexican capital company. Our client selected Trina Solar’s DUOMAX because it delivers a higher yield, mainly due to the improved insulation levels of its cells, guaranteeing seamless production despite potentially adverse environmental conditions, such as high temperatures, humidity or hail impact. 

DUOMAX makes a point to ensure energy production impacts caused by micro-fissures, deformations, UV aging, sand corrosion, acid, saline mist or phosphates are lessened compared to conventional, aluminum-framed panels. This product line eliminates the need to connect aluminum frames to grounding systems, with two layers of 2.5mm-thick heat-strengthened glass replacing polymer coatings in the back of the panel. This technology allows for each panel to register a cell degradation level lower than 0.5 percent per year, meaning 20 percent more energy generation throughout the project’s entire lifecycle.

Jalisco I showcases the combination of several technological advancements besides those already mentioned, such as double-crystal modules and concrete-based automated trackers. Its installment was a success and its energy generation levels have surpassed expectations.

Q: What are Trina Solar’s ambitions in Mexico and what strategy are you implementing to reach them?

A: Trina Solar anticipates Mexico will be the main PV market in Latin America over the next five years. Its growth potential is tremendous, not only for utility-scale projects like those we witnessed during the auctions, but also for the commercial and residential segments. Consequently, our company has already assembled a local team that will increase in the following months, through which it will cater to product and service commercialization as well as direct participation together with strategic partners in PV projects.

Our intention is to actively collaborate in the development of the Mexican PV market, adapting the steps proven to be successful in other, more mature markets to local conditions and developing new business models that bring added value to what is now available. Technology and solar power are evolving at a quickened pace and Trina Solar is evolving in step with both.