Why are REC solar panels so great? Engineer Lee Chun Hui explains.

Why are REC solar panels so great? Engineer Lee Chun Hui explains.

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G'day. I'm Glen Morris from the Smart Energy Lab and today I've got Chun from REC. G'day, Chun.

G'day. Thanks for having me as well. How do you go getting here? It was pretty wet kind of weather yesterday. Just dry through floodwaters. Yeah, it was actually very interesting because yeah, yesterday was really wet, but today it was just sunny and good skies.

You know, it's very sunny as well on the way here. So it's great. Like the drive here was great. The views were excellent.

So it was a very nice drive up here. Good. I'm glad you didn't get lost. You know, it can be a little bit of an adventure sometimes. Coming up the mountain here.

Occasionally there's trees across the road. Oh, yeah. So driving up here was a little bit of a challenge. I don't really drive out, you know, out farther than, you know, all the city. So getting up here was a good challenge. And it was. Yeah, it was pretty safe out here.

Safe. So it's pretty good. Great. So, John, you work for a company called REC. Just tell me a bit about REC. So, REC is a solar panel manufacturing company. So what we do is we manufacture solar panels as it is, and we are actually Scandinavian company founded in Norway in 96. So we're just going to bring it up here for you really quickly as we can see here.

Right, just the history of the of REC and itself. So we were founded in Norway in 1996 and then they've been doing wafers and stuff like that. And then they started in Singapore in 2010. Now, so. REC We started manufacturing our panels in Singapore and the first iteration of that was the peak energy panels. And so that went on for a bit.

And then a couple of years after we also discovered the have got cell technology. So we were one of the first few manufacturers that actually adopted that technology. And I came out with our REC twin pick series and then we got a twin peak and two and twin pick three. And along the way we thought about your look. You know, REC is all about trying to innovate. We're trying to be ahead of the pack, trying to push the boundaries of solar panels to another level.

So hope for a second there. So you were one of the first to introduce half cut cells? Well, one of the first to adopt that technology. Yeah. And so that's why we came up with our twin pick series. So I'll, I'll pick energy was just, you know, a flat piece of P type cell panel.

And then again we had the crossroads of we can either just keep doing what the market was doing or we can just go off the path and adopt this new technology and see where that takes us. So back then in 2016 or sorry, the 2015, that's when we adopted that half cut cell technology and we just put it on a market as our twin pick series. Well, they Peter.

I think the first ones were. Yeah. And then as we went on and as it picked up the half cut cell technology picked up and that's when we tried to change. Like we changed it to like an N type and then on a mono puck. And that's where you get like our twin pick series, our end pick series. That's where the entire series panels are.

And then after that you get our Alpha series, the T cells. Yeah. Now I can feel my audience asking a question already. So what's all this business about Type and type? John So just different types of cells or like in terms of efficiency wise, it actually greatly differs from the P type and type.

So it's really just the, the wafer that's that's used in the cell. So in a little bit I'll get into that because the Alpha series, which I want to talk about after, is what we call a hetero junction cell technology, heat cell. And that actually gets a combination of different layers and different types across the years. And it kind of just mish mash down together and

you get, you know, the best of everything while trying to minimise the downsides of them. So. Coming back to the whole question of what's a top end type tier, just basically types of wafers they use in your cells. And yeah, they just differs in efficiency and the type is more efficient in a pea type, which is. So pea type was basically what most mono crystalline cells were for a long time. Yeah.

So that's a phosphorus doping of the base layer. Yeah. And then we you would have it like a surface coating of an on top to give you the injunction. Right. Yeah. But the move has been away from top to end type because as you said, is efficiency. Exactly. Yes. But I believe it's like it was harder to manufacture.

So that's kind of a bit of a breakthrough making type easy and low cost. Exactly right. So I think back then again, speaking from what you know, speaking from history and what we can see is just that, yeah, moving from the P tab to the end type again, like that was a huge jump in the industry as well. And for REC as well.

Like that's how we came up with our MP series because we believe in that in that jump. So besides just coming out that half cut sale panel, you know, we wanted to also put in, I guess put our chips into the end type series and that's why we came over and pick series. So that jump was as well as a little bit of a again for an REC, how we position ourselves to be industry leading or we try to be industry leading in the solar panel space in itself and that's why we have our NTP series. Now coming back to have cut. It seems a bit odd when you think about it, but you start off with a whole cell cutting in half.

How does that make it better? So it really just increases the efficiency overall. Right? So the panel in itself, it used to be just one slab where, you know, you get your connections on that slab in itself. But the half cut or the twin pick series.

And what they do is they do they cut the panel in half in that sense, not quite literally half the panel, but we kind of cut that that panel into half. And that's how it it gives you more efficiency overall because you can shade half the panel, for example, and the other half would still work. So when we found that technology out, it is harder to manufacture because you can't just put the whole wafer in itself, then you have to cut into half. But, you know, we took that that leap of faith to kind of be like, hey, this is going to be this is what this is what's going to revolutionise the solar panel market. And that's why we are like, All right, we're just going to do that. And yeah, it was a huge success.

So isn't it something to do with Ohm's Law as well, The fact that you are reducing the current in each of the cells by halving them and so your losses, resistant losses are a bit lower. So I squared equals power, so a bit less resistance, you gain more power. Exactly right. Yeah. So with that as well in terms of just the practical use of it, you know, is that yeah, if you shade half the pattern you can use it half but at the same time. Yeah exactly right. So if you cut the pen into half your current is half and you would see as well in the Alpha series as well, this is taken to the next, next level where we're reducing carbon in itself so that it actually increases efficiency. As you say, like p ice we are.

So if our current is a bit lower. Right. And so resistance is as well lower. I mean you get our power, you know, a bit higher in that sense. So we're getting higher power, lower a bit lower current and lower resistive lower sorry, a little bit higher current, but a little bit lower is this load that gives us a good balance of power and resistive loss. A lower resistive.

Loss, yes. So it's all about squeezing more out of the same thing, basically by using physics. Exactly right. Yeah. You know, the stuff that you have learned in high school. Yeah. That still comes into play. Yeah. It all comes together like one full

circle. Yeah. Cool. Now just coming back to REC So they started back in 1996 and they moved to manufacturing and Singapore. You've just been recently in Singapore, I believe.

Yeah, so I've actually been okay. So a little bit about me in itself as well. So what I do is I'm actually born and raised in. Singapore. And I moved to Australia in 2015 for studies. I completed my electrical engineering degree and then I actually worked at end phase for about two years.

So did that. And then we're going to retail and then now in REC. So it was great going back like about a week and a half ago I was back in the REC plant. It was actually really eye opening, being there in the sense of just how big the factories were, how meticulous they were, and true to the Singaporean culture, where everything is down to the wire, everything is so microscopic that it's it's everything's just so focused, it's so laser focused, but everyone has their part to play.

And it just all kind of joins up and works together. So being in that plant in itself, just to see how the automation works there, that's actually, again, how advanced the plant is at the Singapore factory. It's just really mind blowing. You're saying it runs 24 hours a day. Yeah. So while I was there.

So what they're trying to do is because to keep our production right, because a lot of the issues that we have is just production coming into the country. So what they're trying to do is to try to automate as much processors as possible so that they can actually run the plant 24 seven without infringing on any human rights laws. You know, right. We don't want to work anyone across the clock. But with automation, what it does is it helps improve quality, it helps improve reliability. And we know every single thing that

goes in and out and there's no room for human error because everything is done by machinery. Yes, the people are still there to kind of physically look at those panels and the cells and the wafers that are coming out. But everything else other than that is all done by machines. So everything is

recorded somewhere in a database and you can always pull it out. If you say that's an issue, we can always pull it out. So yeah, So on that note in itself, because everything is automated, we're trying to run the plan across the clock and all you need is just, you know, people on shift looking at maybe a screen, for example, just to make sure everything is fine and yeah, and hopefully that, you know, can increase our efficiency efficiency in production in that in that sense.

Wow. I mean, Singapore is such an amazing story. A country with no natural resources at all is just like a superpower of of energy and resourcefulness. Yeah. Yeah. It's really amazing.

I've been there many times. My friend Ralph describes it as the. The Switzerland of Asia. Yeah, it's very clean, it's very well organised, and it's expensive. That is very true. It all ties in together.

So like, yeah, I've been back in Singapore as well, like just coming from there. It's great to know that, you know, we pride ourselves on, you know, again, we have no natural resources. There's nothing really that we can kind of utilise besides the one and only resource that we have, which is ourselves. So we always try and innovate. We're trying to be ahead. We have to be. It's not a choice being in Singapore,

because if you're not, if you're just if you're falling behind, we have nothing else to fall back on. We can't sell, you know, natural resources. We don't have land. We're just a tiny dot. So our human, our brain and whatever we can do is that's why we have and that's why we can get.

And you're on a major shipping route, too. That must help. Exactly right. Yeah.

I've seen some of the pictures. You know, looking at the ocean. There's like 100 container ships out there. Yeah. Waiting to come in. Yeah. That. Well, they're just trying to build a bigger

port, but now hopefully that comes in time. Exactly right. My right is it's a big thing that. Yeah. Yeah. So coming back to the panel, what's the panel we're looking at today called. So the panel that we're looking at today is called the REC Alpha Pure R, so it's the third iteration of the Alpha series. So we have the Alphas and the

alpha pillars and now we have the alpha pure ares or alpha pure the end. What's, what's the significance of the R at the end? Many different things, but it's mostly just pure RA. So it's an evolution of the product.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Right. Yeah. Basically, it's not our type. I got you. I mean, hopefully. So looking at the data sheet here straight away, a couple of interesting things is the form factor of the panel itself. So you've got junction boxes

along one side. Yes. Okay. So let's talk about the panel aesthetics in a sense. Right? So we just look at that and we'll go on to the more technical side of things. So the panel aesthetics in itself is, as you can really see on the right side, looking at a panel in itself. So the the the kind of the junction boxes usually is at the top. So usually at the top of the

panel you would see like a little fat side and then everything else is kind of thinner. But for the alpha pair are because our junction boxes are on the right side, on the side of the panel that it's you get the little fat kind of like black line there. But I think it just makes it look a little bit more different. And you can immediately spot whether

it's a an alpha pure panel or another single panel. In that sense. It's just when you look at the panel in itself, it identifies itself by itself, right? You know, there's nothing else that you kind of look and have to consider about that. So that's number one.

The bar bias on the side. Number two is so you can see here as well, the layout is a bit different where you have four sections of the panel going from top to bottom. So it's not left to right anymore.

So in the past, right, you have your bars kind of left to right and the cells going up and down in that manner. For us, it's it goes in a vertical form, so it goes from left to right in that sense, but from up to down. So I think this change is also beneficial or I don't see other panels doing that, and I think it's beneficial as well because when you install a panel up on your roof, right, it's very rare that you get your shade from left to right is more likely creeping up from bottom to top.

Right. So with. The section of of cells or the wafers in the sense that sections are going from top to bottom. What it does is that it kind of segments the the way how the shading works and it creeps up from the bottom to the top that if let's say it fits only just a quarter of the panel, you only get a quarter loss, not the whole half of it, if that makes sense. So I think that design is in itself as well is very revolutionary, at least to me, because I've not seen a panel that has done that yet. But yeah, there's just purely with the aesthetics of it and just like the looks of that.

Tell me about the arrangement of the bypass diodes on the panels and how that is designed to minimise shading. Okay, so it's very interesting. So the alpha pure are, is very different in the sense of that. Usually you get three bypass diodes on your panel. The alpha power has four bypass diodes and it

goes from top to bottom. So as you can see from here, you can see that the sections are also very different from your usual panel. So usual panel goes from left to right and you get one, two, three vertically from left to right. For always, we have our sections horizontally stacked. So one, two, three, four. And because of the four bypass diodes, now you have four different sections. So what does that mean? First of all is whenever you have shading on your panel, for example, you have four sections now instead of three. So efficiently, efficiently.

Yeah. In terms of efficiency wise, you go from 33% to just 25% loss. Right. Small percentages. But again, in a solar panel space where every single point 1% kind of matters, I think that's a huge jump. Yeah. So first of all, that's that.

Number two is because it's up to down as well. What happens is the shading is now split in accordance to how far the shadow creeps up from bottom to top, not from left to right. And I think that's a great way as well in terms of looking at shade on a normal roof, because usually shape comes in from bottom to top. Let's say that's a tree, that's a chimney. That's something that swivels around, right? That causes shading.

Sometimes it covers from horizontally more so than vertically. And therefore, you get that, you know, you lose less overall. I can see another application, too. But in commercial, we've got predominately flat roofs and you've got rows of panels.

Early in the day you'll be casting a shadow on the panel behind across the bottom third or quarter. Exactly right. Yeah. Which would normally turn off panels which have vertically orientated segments would turn off that whole section. Exactly right. So again, ideally in terms of the

design wise, you don't want to have that to happen. But if it does do happen exactly right, like this panel in itself, the alpha pillars, because of how the junction boxes are kind of designed, how the connections are designed on the panel in itself, that yes, if you cause, you know, from bottom to top, you lose less power overall than your normal standard panel from left to right. Are these panels aimed at the residential market or commercial or both? You can use them for whatever use you want to be really honest, but it's mostly for residential and the sense of because of how aesthetically pleasing it looks as well. Yes, it's a whole the all black panel, you know, it doesn't have any any silver lining, any silver bass bars or anything like that on this. The bust bars are black. Yeah. Long Actually, there is actually no about that.

All right. So let me show you something very, very interesting here. Really? How do you do that? So what we do is our cells is what we call we have a gapless cell technology. So the cells in itself are just layered, close enough to be in contact, but there is no soldering involved. So as I mentioned before, in the plant, in the single plant itself, this is mind blowing, right? Because from an electrical engineering background, you know everything you want. If you want to match two pieces of metal together, you have to either solid or, you know, you weld them together. There's some sort of heat

involved, right, to kind of join them together. But when we went to the plant, there is no such thing. Everything is kind of printed on the screen. It in that sense, you get there, it just kind of like goes through and then it comes out and that's all your connections there straight away. And also the ring involved, nothing like that. There is no heat induced into any of these

panels or any of these connections. And therefore, because there's no heat involved or I would say low heat involved, no soldering or anything like that, that you have that that sort of resistive loss or that kind of error that kind of goes away. You know, you don't burn any of the cells. You don't have to induce any stress on these cells or wafers. Right? Everything is just kind of matched perfectly together side by side.

And because there's no soldering as well, that helps us in to making our panels let free as well all our compliant right because there's no less involved in in the use of the soldering and even if. There is any sort of small sort of ring involved or any wiring or anything like that. It's all that ring. So we have used let free soldering, all those applications and yeah, it's just really mind blowing to see how the cells in itself, like we used to have bass bars and now it's no bass parts. Everything's just, you know, connected very meticulously and very intricately together that it's connected.

Would you describe that as jingling. In some sort? But it's not. At the same time, it kind of makes sense. Like the cells aren't sitting on top of each other, slightly overlap, like shingles on a roof.

They're just abutting. Yeah, Yeah. So if you if you look at at the slide that we're going to show you here, so it's just very closely overlapped. So in that sense it's yes, like signalling does the same thing. Yes, it's very similar.

But what I've been told is it's it's also a little bit different. But then again, it's. A it's a trade secret. Trade secret. Let's call it Gapless. Yeah. Gapless cell technology. That's what they call it. But I guess one of the advantages is, apart from the fact that it's lead free, is that the coverage is more complete too.

So there's no wasted area on the on the the panel. Exactly right. So as you can see on the screen here, because of the lack of soldering, because again and there's a lack of bass bars, you're actually improving the area that the cells can occupy or you don't need that much of a I would like to say wasted space because you only have your bass bars. It's a needed space, but because that's gone.

It's still shading. The bass bar is part of the cell. Exactly. Yeah. So you can actually actually kind of compress the panel a little bit smaller. And again, when in a solar panel space where every single millimetre matters, these small savings will add up on the overall shape of the panel and the overall size of the panel as well. Yeah.

Now I've heard people say that having lots of bass bars like ten or 12 helps reduce the effects of micro cracking. Is there any correlation with the way you do it with the Gapless technology in terms of the effects of micro cracking? Okay. So in terms of micro cracking itself, that's when you worry about micro cracking. So we instead of trying to worry about how or rather whether the bass bars would help in micro cracking. So what we do is ourselves cells, we try and make them as robust as possible. So as you can see here, our cells actually been quite a bit.

Whoa. Yeah. So it actually bends to a point where you think you would crack on a normal cell. It would crack, but the RSI, alphas and alpha powers, in the sense the cells actually are flexible enough that it wouldn't cause a problem if there is any sort of unless you don't excessively put force into it. Yes.

Otherwise it should still hold up. Do you know the thickness of the cells? Thickness of the cells? Unfortunately, no. That's okay. It's just the reason I ask is I remember talking to someone who used to be involved in cell manufacture in Sydney when they used to make panels in in Australia at what was then the BP plant.

And he was saying that micro cracking wasn't a problem when cells were thick. It became a problem when cells got thinner. But he said it would go away again when cells got thinner, even that become flexible.

And I guess you've got to that point. Yes, exactly. Right. And as long as the cells are more flexible

than the glass that encapsulates them, then they're not going to bend to a breaking point. Exactly. Right. So like you say, you really don't have to worry about micro cracking. Yeah, it's more about someone broke the glass and that's pretty obvious. Yeah. Someone actually steps on the panel, but we want to always avoid that. Yeah.

Yes, yes, yes. Don't walk on your panels. Okay. Now you've got a slide here showing P mono PERC. Now PERC, passive emitter collector. What's that all about. So that is just really, I guess, the type of technology that it comes by in terms of how the P type again, like so P type you have your, I guess you have a P time mono PERC.

Right. And then you get into n type and then you get into or what we call a heat and that's why we have the cells that we're using right now. So I wanted to introduce to you the cell or how our cell is kind of made, how wafers are kind of made, right? So going back to the whole issue about P type N type and the different types of and one to in that sense as well, like how it all comes by together. So what we do here is that what we does,

the cell that we use is called the hetero junction cell or HJT cell. So what we do here is we actually combine a few types of the this the technologies used in the past. I think that's a good way to put it, right. So we're not actually innovating anything new.

We're actually taking technologies of the past, put them together to create something new. And I think that's ingenious because that's how Singaporeans are as well, and how we are as a people where we combine the talents of everyone and you get a better by-product out of it. So as you can see here, like for example, instead of using the P type, we have the M type model wafer. So again, because the whole P type N type N type is more efficient, so we use the bulk of that as the bulk of our wafers. Now on top of that as well, because what we want to do is to increase bifacial reality of our wafers in the cells.

So what we do is there was a time where amorphous silicon was a thing, where flexible panels were a thing. Yes, I've got some of them out there. The little 60 watters. Yep, yep. So those are thing. But again, it's efficiency was 7%.

Yeah. Terrible. Yeah, it's a great idea. I like I love the idea of it and. For your pocket calculators that you sit on your desk. Exactly right Yeah. You know you use them so many in so many areas.

Yes. But on a solar panel on your roof, you want to get the most amount of power per metre squared flexible. The amorphous silicon is not really going to work out for you, but we want to use that that technology from there because again, it's used in so many small applications that has its uses. And so we're like, why don't we just combine it together, right? We have your entry, which is really efficient. Now.

We want to use some of the technology and some of the benefits of this more silicon. And so we just combine that together now on top of that as well, which we just put a transparent conductive oxide on top. So it just kind of sits all together and both top and bottom are the same. So it is our panels and our cells are bifacial, but it is not because we have our black on our back sheet.

Hang on, let me just take that apart a little bit. Yeah. So you've got a base layer of any type. I'm on a wafer which has bifacial reality. Yes. But you using that bifacial reality within the module, not from reflected light from behind.

So like, it's reflecting from the back sheet. Yes, exactly right. So there's an internal reflection. Then you've got a layer on top of that of amorphous silicon. Yes.

Now surely putting a layer of amorphous silicon on top of any type would shade it. Why does it not shade it? So again, trade secret. But but, but so this is why okay, this is why I'm very. You don't have to kill me. Yes, right. This is the last video as well, because

this is why Alpha Pure R was such a revolutionary change when we went to the planting itself. Right. So again, unfortunately, I can't say the percentages of what is being used in there. Yes. But this is why it's things that you're like, Well, it shouldn't work. Right? Like, you know, you get your amorphous shape, then why would you ever do something like this? Right? So this is where like I think REC is in the position of of our company is just probably just trying to push that limit. Right. Every time someone

says, no, you can't do this. It's where you have to kind of look at it and be like, what if? But what if we could what if this works? Yeah. And so with three iterations, really with the Alphas that started with this whole hetro junction cell technology, and then we get to Alpha Pure, which then improved on that and the Pure R's now because we have a past set of data that we could use, right.

That we can now, you know, change the percentages of what goes in into the cells, into the wafers in itself. So, yes, the amorphous silicon technically would shape the type panel, but the benefits of that and again, percentages wise using it so that it doesn't completely eliminate the N Type wafer that's in the in the middle that what it gives in terms of like the temperature, that's how we hit such a low temperature coefficient because of that. So the low temperature just the position of that. That's another plus then. Yeah. So just coming back to the amorphous silicon layer, I imagine it must be very, very thin because at a sort of an atomic level, there's a lot of gaps between atoms and those photons miss a lot of those silicon atoms all together and go through to the next layer. So it's not really like you're putting an

opaque material on top of the inner type. You're putting a translucent to to photons material. Yeah. So it's picking up some of them, missing, some of them the in typeset to catch them.

Exactly right. But then on top you've got an amazing material called a transparent conductive oxide. I imagine that's iridium or something similar. Transparent conductive material.

That's amazing. Yeah. So again, we went to the plant itself. It it goes through so many what we call as chemical curings for the panel. And so in itself to give it its flexibility and its durability and as robustness at the same time still keeping everything that you would want in a cell to conductive notes and everything like that. And adding on to that and this is why everything has to be, well, using machines, I guess. Yes.

Because again, it's so thin and it's so precise. Yes. That you can't afford to have it, you know, down to like the. So this is why I think like in terms of the in itself, it was so amazing to watch how things have changed across the years. You know, I look back and you get, you know, same for rec. It started off with just hand washing wafers. You know, very physically labourers and now everything is just through machines too.

Like, again, as you say, the thin, very thin, very minute and minuscule differences can cause such a big difference, but yet it's still the same every single time. Yeah. So the HGC hetero junction cells with that extra boost and performance because it's basically two two cells in one. Yeah. Let me take you on a little journey. Jump on my time machine.

Go back to 2010. Yeah. I remember installing Sanyo, Sanyo HHR. So hetero intrinsic thin film panels.

Similar concept. Yeah, but they were like two times the price of everything else or even more. They were really, really expensive. They just didn't

catch on. If you solve the price problem. We actually have is just because. Okay, so technology has increased and improved so much, you know, back in 2010 and like it has only been, what, 13 years? Yes. But in terms of machinery wise, technology

wise, everything has improved in that sense. And again, like, yes, we do agree that, you know, price of the HTT or like the manufacturing of of the HTT might be a little bit more. But in terms of what. You get three times more. No, not three times more. Not any more. Not any more.

Not in that scale. So it might just be like because of everything that's improving. And and again, not just the solar panel sector that's actually evolving and improving themselves. Same with the machines that produces these cells as well. They have been doing their research. They have been outputting.

Again, the same with our phones, right? Yes. Back then you'd have like a Nokia, which costs the same price as an iPhone now. But the technology is so different and it's like a span of, what, 14 years because it's iPhone 14 now. So it's been 14 years. Things have sped up so quickly.

Technology and machinery has sped up as well. Evolution of that as well. So price point wise, we managed to keep it at a fairly low, not three times, not a fairly cost, low cost, but still get everything out in that sense. I'm curious about the cell efficiency with the HJC technology. Do you know of how and what that is.

The efficiency of the cell in itself? I think they were saying it's somewhere between a percentages of 22 to 25%, if I'm not wrong. Yeah. Okay. Wow. That's pretty impressive. Wow. Yeah. Considering that, you know, back in the seventies, we were down at, like, 5%. Yeah, I don't like a P time.

Is like, you know, 13 and top is like, 17, but it's getting progressively better and better. And again, because we're using a combination of different technologies. Yeah, just kind of push. It up because after all, from the residential perspective, your resources, your roof and your roof is a limited space and getting more energy off that limited space is what it's all about. Exactly. Right. So with with with us as well. So something that we like to do and I think this is how we want to go forward as well, is we understand that solar panels, right? You want a 600 watt panel shot, you need to have that size to accommodate for that. For RC. We don't really believe in that.

And I think this is where the fork in the road happens again for us. Yeah, we want to get the most power density out of your roof of the panel, which is what what we brand us, you know, we want, we want it to be bigger. We want it to be better. Yeah. So better, not bigger.

Yeah. Yeah. Cool. So let's come back to the data sheet. I had a quick look at it before my computer, and the first thing that got me was that these panels have quite a high BNP and quite a low imp and low is yes.

What was the principles behind that? So, as you know, as we discussed before, like how the half cut cell actually kind of improves efficiency overall because of the lower resistive losses. Same thing here. So that's why I was talking about them was the alpha pillars and how we took it a step further is again, we try and drop the current and improve the voltage. So this it's a two pronged effect that helps our panel. So first of all, low current, we get low resistive technologies, low resistance, sorry, and therefore we get lower resistance losses on top of that as well. We have a low one of the lowest

temperature coefficients in terms of VOC wise. So it's -0.24%. Wow. A lot of others are 0.26273, two X and etc. etc.. What did you say it was to.

-0.2, 4%. To four. Yeah. On the right.

Yeah. Wow. That is, that is really good for those are not familiar with this temperature coefficient thing. Basically panels as they heat up lose power and the coefficient is the rate that they lose power at. So a lower coefficient because it's a negative coefficient the better. That means on a hot day, you're still producing lots of power. You're not losing it to physics.

So yeah, that's another way of squeezing more out of the same thing. Exactly. And we kind of doubled down on that because, again, because we reduce current to produce the same amount of power, we need to check out something right inside the power inside of because I've so I had a current voltage so with all leading voltage coefficient all at -0.24%, we doubled down and so we improve or increase our voltage so that even on a hot day because of the high voltage and the low voltage coefficient, you actually losing a little bit less power overall.

Again, kind of just to reiterate solar panels industry, every single percent, every single one count. And when we do that, I think it's again like small things like this I think positions us out of the market where we think of the panel as a holistic as a whole holistically, everything in there and every change that we make has to benefit the customer in some way. I'm thinking you must be happy with 5033 The 2020 edition raising the domestic voltage up to 1000 volts now, so it makes it possible to get a lot more panels than series. Exactly right. We've still got a little problem with 4777, but yeah, we're working on it right now.

Don't you worry. We'll solve that one shortly. There is you is just a hiccup, but it's the fact that the different standards overlapped at that point. Yeah, but certainly for anyone off grid or DC coupled 1000 volts domestic is the go right now. Exactly. Yeah. And that would really suit your panels too

because per panel at about 60 volts open circuit you probably want to be around the nine panels on a 600 volt system. Yeah. Yeah. Well yeah 600 plus system for now. For now, yeah. As we get 1000 volts. Yeah. You'll be 12. 13, 14. Yeah. Exactly right.

Yeah. Great. Also with the lower current, you could probably parallel and still meet the input limits of many inverters because you two strings and you're only running it. So what's your imp round. About eight and a half amps. Yeah. So I have actually have drawn up something. It's a little bit unrefined, I'm not going to lie or I was done on PowerPoint. You're giving Give me a break. But it kind of

explains how our how our panel can be installed on a more physical aspect. Oh, good, good, good, good. Yeah. We have this power. All the strings design that I kind of thought I've just used a very generic inverter. Yep, yep.

And you can see here. So they have different amps as well, Right. And beeped one empty two. It's unbalanced and it's perfectly fine now in that case as well, if in the case that you ever want to do a three parallel install on one empty for reasons you can, especially if our panel as well because of the low current when you parallel that parallel them together. Right I see 8.92 you get down three different strings, all of them together. You probably need a fuse protection because Varonis has a 25 amp protection.

This goes up to 26.7. So you might need a separate fuse protection for that, but it is possible to kind of parallel them together in that case. So if you do need a design that needs to do three different strings in three different orientations, for example, to one empty, perfectly fine, because our low amp IAC. And what's the series fuse for these panels? 25 amps.

It's right there, the bottom. Left, right. So you wouldn't need serious fuses. I'm sorry. You wouldn't need string fuses because n minus one strings is less than 25. True. So you're all good. So I think what the point you're making here is even though this three strings can put out 26.76 amps, the

input limits or the amp being 22 is not actually a problem. Yeah, I mean, many people think that when they see the inverter size maximum input current 22 amps, you can't go over it. Well, they forget that the inverter isn't charged. The inverter actually is a smart load. It controls the current that it chooses to draw from the panels. So you might think, Well, that's a

bad idea. I'm not getting all the current out of my panels, but basically it's about maximum production over the day. Exactly right. Yeah. And every day isn't a perfect sunny day, I can tell you that in Melbourne right now. That's right. Yeah.

And really incentives are about more solar. Yeah. So getting more production for more of the day means over sizing. Makes a lot of sense. Yeah, exactly right. So the over sizing thing as well.

There are some limits though. The ISC of the inverter, you still need to consider that maximum short circuit current. But many inverters like perennials, have quite high maximum short circuit currents.

Yeah, exactly right. Yeah. So in that case, it's, you know, you want a pair of inverters as well. It has the same limitations. So one of the designs that we kind of made as well in terms of this is if we go back to the old sun zero five kilowatts, right. So that still works in our in our case as well. Yes.

But only thing is because I think the old five k's, I've been told that it's now upgrading or they've been changing it to. Same as the 20 Amps. But when? When he was only ten.

You're talking about the eyes of the Sungrow hybrid. Yeah. Yeah. How. How much is can you take in? So I have a data sheet here and the max PV input current here they put it's only 20 amps or ten amps per MPPT. So if that happens, still not a

problem is still possible. This is just I'm just taking an example where you have inverters that still has this ten amp limit on the amp beats. I know more and more inverters are now moving up to 20 and so that will be less of a problem.

But if you still have an inverter, let's say you have an old install, like an old inverter that still works and you still want to use them and it goes up to ten amps. You can still use our panel and it's not a problem. Whereas I know a lot of panels nowadays where low voltage by the jackup, the currents and the currents are going above 12, 13, 14, this would not be possible.

Yeah, yeah. You know, from a design point of view, I have to look at the ratio of Isc to series fuse rating. Yeah. And you've got a very big ratio, which is great, which means you can go a lot of parallel strings before having to put in string fusing, which is extra costs, extra points of failure.

Exactly right. In fact, you know, you'd be probably a market leader for that at 25 amps. So that's that's pretty impressive. Yeah, I was trying to push the limits there.

Maybe it's said Gapless technology gets you there. That's right. I'm feeling like something's going to happen to me if I keep asking too many questions.

You're fine here. You're fine here. Yeah. So this actually taking a bit of a change of direction for a moment. Look, you obviously know an awful lot about PV and solar. How did you get to be, you know, doing this sort of stuff? What's your career path? So. Well, I studied electrical engineering in

NSW, so back in Sydney 2015. Best place in the world. I can't say don't count wrong. But yeah, I enjoyed my time. There was great. You know, I learned a lot there in terms of engineering, electrical and everything like that in between. So after that I graduated and I got into

actually got hired at Enphase and Enphase Energy, and this is back when the IQ7 was still coming out. There was still under S series because I got. Some on the wall over there.

Yeah, exactly right. Yeah, I saw that. And I was like, This is pretty old. I'm not seeing I'm in a while. So yeah. So I started my journey, my solo journey there at Enphase and yeah, it was, it was great. I always so when I did electrical engineering like you always at your end of the, you know, your last year, penultimate year, you're trying to think about what you want to do and what you want, a career where your career wants to take you.

So part of it is sounds a little bit cheesy, but like I always want to do something good for the world and in some. Way it's a good cheese. It really is. I hope. I hope so. No one's cringing at home right now. And so I was like, look, I want ideally to go into actually to win energy, because back then that's the only thing I kind of knew. I didn't really know if geothermal was a thing here, or at least in Sydney, right? I know in other places I would states there might be. And solar was just not a thing,

right? It was there, but everyone was still on that. And I guess see in 2015 I was just the solar is too expensive. You know, you get you can't run anything else other than your hot water on solar.

So there's really no like future for it I guess in that sense when I was studying but when I was starting to enphase and I got into the solar world and I was like, how wrong everyone was still on that. You know that backwards thinking. And it's just like it's, it's moving so quickly in the solar in the solar world, right? You know, 2015 we had 330 watt panel and it was the base and now we have 400 watt panels for 15 for 30 years, easily just in the span of five years, we've moved across so much. So I started Enphase Energy and it was great, you know, learning about micro inverters, learning about panels. And because migraine was such a new technology back then and face was still fairly new as opposed to the string inverter sector.

So that challenge was actually very interesting to kind of tackle, just trying to see how people think about solar, how how different technologies affect the panels, how are they accepted in in the sector in itself. And again, all the different standards as as you would know, like, you know, back in 2015. The 350 watt limit. Yeah, that was so terrible. Yeah. And you get you know. You'll when we wrote that panels were 150 watts and we thought we'll never get to 350 watts.

Yeah. It didn't take long at all. Yeah. Like this. And you're like, well we're here. Yeah. By the way, there's no, no, no limits now.

So basically, there's no such thing as micro inverters as far as the standards are concerned. It's just inverters with LV input. Exactly right. They call them MLPE's now. Yeah. Yeah. So such a big change. You know, back from when I was at Enphase and across now. So I got my foot in to that. I didn't for a couple of years and then I went into retail, so I went to see how try to get into the minds of how installers actually work in that sense. I was like, Look, the best way to get to

that. Let's try selling, you know, let's try selling this and see where it takes me. Right? I'm in tech, you know, throughout my life and then and various I was like, look, let's go on the front end and see how that goes. How how that that battle for you kind of is.

And what's really interesting as well, because then I get to learn about how customers are and how what they're looking for versus what we're actually providing right as tech guys, or at least for me, like I'm very tech nerd, I would say I like to look at numbers a lot and I was like, look, you know, this and that. This is benefits and stuff. And then customers look at different things altogether. So I did it for like a couple of years and then, yeah, and I look at RC and I was like, Look, it's a Singapore. Well, it's a Norwegian company, but it's not based in Singapore, which where I'm from. I was like, That's great. I get to do it.

So my role currently in REC, I'm a senior technical sales specialist. So basically everything, all the buzzwords you can find on a job description, that's my role, right? And I'm happy to do that. I'm glad, you know, having this role, learning a lot again, I get back into this whole numbers game, but now with the knowledge of everything else, you know, the inverter side of things, how the customer is thinking and how they would like things to be, and then being at REC and how it's actually positioning itself.

It's very eye opening and it's also very pleasing, if that makes sense. Like how it's not all about just following, like just going down or like chasing something like REC is always being like, Oh, they're going down this path, but let's try going here. Okay, So innovation.

Yeah, innovation. Like, I guess the buzzword is innovation, but in some sense it's also just, you know, looking at what, what else outside the box that can be done. And that's where, you know, again, innovation happens or that's where technology evolves, right? When you look at something that you think that can be done. Yeah. And then you do it and then it works and then everyone suddenly, Oh yeah, we always knew it would work. Yeah. So being at risk, kind of just, just very eye opening, just working with the tech team, the engineering team and all those amazing people with great brains and great minds.

It's just. Yeah, it's just I'm right now, you know, I've joined IDC for like close to a year now and I'm still learning a lot and enjoying my time here. Yeah, cool. It's great you get to have trips home to visit family or friends. Yeah, it's a two.

Like it solves both purposes. So yeah, I'm glad to have that as well. Hey, it's cool. So we're coming to the end of things. Anything else you'd like to tell me a bit about the panel or REC We haven't covered already. I think like the parting words I would say for like REC and the panel, like first of all for REC is it's a great company, you know, just, just being in the environment itself and how the engineering team is always thinking about ways to innovate at the same time, because I'm also off the sail and we have one of the lowest warranty cases, I would say one of the lowest amongst other brands.

And I know this for a fact because I'm the warranty guy, so if you need a warranty, you come to me, right? And I don't. Just put your mobile phone number on the screen. Call me, do work hours. But yeah, like the amount of

warranties I get is not it's few and far between and that opens up a lot of my time to do more experimentation here in Australia because again, we have different regions. You know, the US, you have the, you have Europe, you have Asia and they all have the things going on for them. And for me to actually experiment here, you know, on home ground, on home turf, it's great. Like having that time to do that is is really extraordinary. And also because of how, again, everything is automated, everything is through machinery, everything is recorded. So even if there is a problem, we can immediately go back. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.

To which machine, which person and where it actually is. And where did this problem appear? Fix it right away. And then subsequent panels or anything that goes through that machine is then perfectly fine.

And because again, because it's all machinery, it's always a duplicate, it's always a replication of things. So very traceable. Exactly. It's traceable. And the quality and the standard is all replicated and it's all set to a certain standard and it doesn't change. Yeah. So I think on that note, like I said, Alpha Pure R as well, like how, how much technology is advanced and how much things have improved over the years. Alpha PR Yes, it might not be the biggest wattage panel on the market. I'm pretty sure it's only up to

430 W. Am I going to lie? You know, you have four seventies, your five hundreds and stuff like that. For us, what we want to do is. We want to kind of get the most power density out of our panel.

And there is something actually that we are kind of moving towards as well. So we believe now, right? We always think greatness doesn't end. It evolved, right? And we always want to do things better, not necessarily bigger. That's the direction that we want to move towards at this point. We want to make things better, not

bigger. And greatness doesn't end. It evolves. Well, I'm looking forward to getting my hands dirty on some panels. I believe we've got a little project actually on the roof of my house and I've got 12.

I won't say what the brand is, but there are 250 watt panels which are going to go replaced with some 400 and something in the same footprint. So there's the change. Exactly. But basically getting another 40% more power out of the same roof area with quality. Exactly right. Yeah.

And again, everything on there, you know, it's going to last you I won't say your lifetime, but it is structure for your lifetime. Yeah. Yeah. Yep. And so I'll link that up here when we've done it. So you can, you can watch that video as we install those panels. But anyway, well John, thanks for

coming. It's been really informative. I've learned quite a lot about REC and I'm really excited by the HJC technology, so I hadn't realised that's what's embedded in there and the the secret gapless technology as well. Yeah. Cool. Well, yeah, thanks for having me as well. I hope to work with you in the future. Okay, Thanks.

2023-01-16 18:16

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