Iván Reyes
Latam Utility Director
LONGi Green Energy Technology
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HI-MO4 Module Ideally Positioned for C&I

By Cas Biekmann | Thu, 03/04/2021 - 10:39

Q: What was LONGi’s experience in 2020 in terms of demand and what specific goals has it set for 2021?

A: Even though we are experiencing a global pandemic, we have had a great deal of demand, especially in Latin America. The impact of COVID-19 was, therefore, not that profound. Of course, some projects were pushed out to 2021 but, overall, 2020 was a good year for us. For instance, we provided modules for the Pachamama solar project in Aguascalientes, which has been a success so far. We already had some contracts negotiated in 2019 as well, which helped fill in the gaps.

For 2021, we had to make some adjustments in our projections, considering the situation for utility scale projects. However, we see a big opportunity to increase our market share in the C&I segment. Our target for this year is to have at least a 25 percent market share in the DG environment. We are negotiating with key distributors and already have a good-looking pipeline with C&I developers.

 

Q: The company broke the barrier of shipping 20GW of modules in 2020. What factors drove this success?

A: The company invested a great deal into new infrastructure to increase its production capacity for wafers and modules. This has allowed us to ramp up our sales. We have demonstrated that our module technology does not only meet technical requirements but also surpasses some of them. Hiring new team members across the world has had a positive impact on sales in different regions as well. 

 

Regarding our bankability, it has certainly improved our rankings. Besides our 100 percent bankability rating from BloombergNEF, we have also received a Triple A bankability from PV Tech. LONGi is the only module manufacturer with this particular score. This has been achieved thanks to the company’s financial stability and management, combined with its technology and sales approach. The company is keen on taking measured risks and to start investing in new markets, which is behind our healthy finances and high-quality-product.

 

Q: How is the company adapting its strategy in regard to utility scale projects?

A: We understand the challenges that the sector faces in Mexico under the government. However, there are still some ready-to-build projects that comply with its regulations where we could supply the modules. However, we are also promoting our HI-MO4 modules aimed at distributed generation (DG) in Mexico for the C&I segment. This is a market where we see a great deal of demand, so we have adapted our strategy to these market conditions. In this case, we developed a proper module to provide to this market. We would love to deploy our cutting-edge utility-oriented module, the HI-MO5, in Mexico as well but looking for new projects might be a challenge under the government’s current policy direction. In Mexico, it seems like we will have to focus more on the C&I market.

 

Q: What advantages does the HI-MO4 module bring in the area of DG for the C&I segment?

A: For utility scale projects, we see a different size of module being applied, from 500W up to 700W. The main problem is that these modules increase in size and weight but not necessarily in efficiency. This is not a problem for utility scale but the DG market often uses rooftops, such as at industrial parks. Such a hefty module might not be suitable for a rooftop installation. Our HI-MO4 module is smaller in size and lighter, making it more suitable in this regard. This is why we believe that the technical characteristics of this module fit the C&I segment perfectly.

 

Furthermore, the biggest size provides a high amount of current. Inverters designed for DG projects are sometimes not suited for this. It can be a problem for C&I developers to procure inverters that are compatible with such sizes. Efficient, smaller modules that comply with all the technical market conditions are much easier to work with.

 

Q: How is LONGi planning to increase its manufacturing capabilities to meet such demand?

A: We have a rather aggressive expansion plan for the next couple of years. Global demand is very high. We have noted reports stating it is over 130GW. By the end of this year, our goal is to surpass 50GW manufacturing capacity for our modules. For wafers, we want to increase this to over 80GW. We truly believe that demand for solar will continue to rise, so we want to be prepared.

 

Q: In what areas is the company focusing its R&D efforts?

A: LONGi is recognized as a technology company in the industry, so a big portion of our revenue is reserved for R&D. I believe that enhancing technical product capabilities is very important. Since we are a vertically integrated company, from wafers all the way to modules, there is a great deal of space to do research and implement new techniques. We always try to focus on the next big technology. Mono PERC panels are the main technology, with over 90 percent of capacity in the industry. LONGi always believed in this technology, which we have demonstrated provides more benefits than polycrystalline tech. There is still a great deal of room for us to grow capacity and efficiency in mono PERC, so we have invested in these techniques to make this happen. We are also researching other technologies through trials and testing, to decide in which technology we will significantly invest. However, for now we are still focusing on mono PERC.

 

Q: How is LONGi solar using this investment to increase the sustainability of its modules?

A: We were the first to offer a better degradation warranty. For many years, the standard was 25 years for 80 percent of its original power output. We introduced a warranty of 30 years and close to 85 percent using our bifacial modules for this original output. We invest yearly to make modules more sustainable, with less degradation, so we can increase their life expectancy. We have also introduced gallium-doping on our wafers, which has decreased first-year degradation of the module. In addition, LONGi is committed to making all its production facilities sustainable within the next few years. We are also part of the RE100 global corporate renewable energy initiative, which is further proof of LONGi’s focus on the philosophy of sustainability.

LONGi Green Energy Technology is a solar company founded in 2000. It is a world leader in the manufacturing of high-efficiency monocrystalline solar panels and is also the world's largest supplier of monocrystalline silicon wafers. 

Cas Biekmann Cas Biekmann Journalist and Industry Analyst