There's always a trade-off when buying cheaper solar panels – the consequence is often devastating to your budget and property's overall needs. But, it's still possible to get affordable yet quality solar panels as the technology improves.
Solar panels have reached the highest efficiency rating it can offer. Many homes can run an entire day using solar energy and during night with high-capacity solar energy storage systems. Furthermore, their prices could go down as solar shingles gain more traction and demand.
Unfortunately, today's manufacturers only serve as designers and quality-control specialists. Most of the panel procurement and manufacturing occurs in China. While designers and quality control specialists can carefully monitor the process to ensure quality and dependability, the export fees will increase the product's retail cost.
Many local brands are focused on bringing home the manufacturing processes. For instance, GAF's Timberline Solar Shingles team is situated in the country and has opened numerous manufacturing factories across different states as demand for its products have increased in the last year and is continuously doing so. Furthermore, other solar panel manufacturers are opening "gigafactories" that would accommodate and turn solar panels as export products.
Today, most of the world's solar panel manufacturing comes from China. A World Economic Forum report has highlighted this as an alarming development. Read about it below.
What's in place now: Concentrated manufacturing hubs
Currently, more than 80% of solar panel production – in all phases – is concentrated in China, and that figure could soon reach 95% for some fundamental components. This phenomenon is so marked that the International Energy Agency (IEA) has, for the first time, produced an entire Special Report on Solar PV Global Supply Chains.
China’s competitive labor market, availability of raw materials and ability for economies of scale has made it the clear global solar leader. China’s massive production of panels has enabled the strong global growth of solar energy. This has lowered costs and made it more affordable than fossil fuels.
China’s solar panel industry could not, despite its size, meet global demand on a long-term basis: according to the IEA, annual additional PV power output must at least quadruple by 2030, if we are to reach the net zero goal by 2050.
What's emerging: New giga-factories
Outside of China, other countries and companies are working hard to boost the global solar supply chain so that we can reach our net zero goals. In Sicily, in southern Italy, a solar panel factory has, through a combination of continuous innovation and production since 2010, positioned itself as a leader in the renewable energy space.
The TANGO (iTaliAN pv Giga factOry) project is, today, one of Europe's largest solar factories. Backed by the European Union and 3Sun, it started production in 2011 using thin-film silicon technology, which at the time was mainstream. It had an efficiency level of around 10% and a lifespan of 25 years. Since then, there has been a process of continuous innovation. This was firstly with bifacial panels which could use both direct sunlight and that which was reflected on the ground and onto the back of the panel. Then hetero-junction technology (HJT) was introduced: HJT panels have an efficiency level of 21% - 24% and a lifespan of up to 35 years. The TANGO project, with the backing of the European Union, will now enable the facility to increase the current production level to 3 GW a year, thus becoming the largest solar factory in Europe.
Currently, research is focused on Tandem Cells, which consist of two overlapping cells: one is “traditional,” while the other is made of perovskite. This not only uses solar radiation in the red wavelength, but also the blue.
Such were the results that had been achieved, the Catania factory was able to make a decisive leap forward in 2022. Thanks to an investment of some €600 million, of which €118 million comes from the European Innovation Fund for large-scale projects, 3Sun will become a giga-factory. (Continue reading to learn more)
Roper Roofing & Solar is a reliable solar panel manufacturing company with decades of experience installing solar panels for homeowners, commercial properties, and beyond. We also offer the best residential and commercial roofing services in your area. Call us today to learn more about what we can do for you.
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