The world is rapidly beginning to lean towards solar energy to get out of the binds of fossil fuel and to build an energy-rich sustainable future. As the demand is expected to grow by 15% to add a whopping ~130 GW globally in 2021, there is a trend of higher Watt Peak (Wp) modules emerging faster than before. In the 1950s, solar modules only converted about 6% of the sun’s energy into electricity, producing close to 20 watts of electricity.
The rapidly increasing numbers from 500 Wp and to as high as 600-650 Wp indicate a phenomenal growth trajectory not just in technology but also in higher Wp power demand. Module manufacturers around the world are introducing their latest offerings with higher Wp solar panels and warring for dominance in the market. We are well aware that photovoltaic modules are the centre of a solar plant. Therefore, the real question for developers and installers is- whether these higher Wp modules are a gimmick or the game-changer that everybody is waiting for.
What Is Wp?
Technical calculations aside, the words Watt Peak (Wp) identifies the maximum power that can be produced from the panel at standard test conditions. Therefore, the higher the Wp, the higher the energy production capacity of a solar panel.
Taking a Step Back for a Comprehensive View
To understand the implications of using a higher Wp module, we need to understand that this change is not accidental. A higher Wp module is the result of ongoing technological experiments and developments in different avenues of solar technology. For example, Polycrystalline solar panels were the traditional choice for a long time. However, Monocrystalline solar panels using cells made from a single silicon crystal offered higher efficiencies and sleeker aesthetics. Thus, stealing the limelight. Now with the development of PERC technology, monocrystalline solar panels reached an efficiency range from (16% to 24%). PERC solar cells typically perform better than traditional panels in both low-light conditions and high temperatures.
Additionally, the use of 120/144/156 half-cells in solar panels in place of traditional 60 or 72 cells has shown great promise in increasing power generation performance. While using larger wafers have shown a significant boost in energy, they can also offer-
- Reducing the number of modules for a project
- Reducing cable, bracket, and mounting equipment cost (BOS cost)
- Reducing the Levelized cost of electricity (LCOE)
- Reducing the need for space
All these changes that have been continued for the last 10 years have resulted in higher Wp modules that come with-
- Higher efficiency
- Better performance in low light and shadowy conditions
- Reduction of Hotspot temperatures
- Better micro-crack tolerance
- Reduced power loss
- Higher reliability
For example, we can highlight Vikram Solar’s new M6 cell-powered Series 6 in Mono & Bifacial variants with Mono PERC technology and Multi Bus Bar features.
Be Sure Before You Purchase
High Wp solar modules offer higher energy efficiency thus reducing the total number of modules needed to reach the desired power output. From a number of brackets to a number of pile foundations, combiner boxes, string inverters and even power cables needed, using high Wp modules can reduce the usage of these peripheral items, considerably reducing the Balance-of-system costs.
Thus, making it very easy to achieve a lower Levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) and a higher return on investment for PV projects with the use of higher Wp modules.
We have now substantiated the legitimacy of the Wp war and what it can bring for us. However, we still have to be extremely careful when we are selecting our solar panels for largescale projects or selecting panels for solar set up in homes. We need to check and compare the efficiency levels, warranties, performance guarantees, and supplier profile thoroughly before purchasing, to get the best of this new trend of advanced technology modules.