As the solar industry continues to grow and evolve, module blending is becoming an increasingly relevant topic among project developers. This method offers practical solutions, especially as antidumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD) tariffs could be applied to Chinese products and domestic content is incentivized. There are strategic considerations for designing and constructing solar sites with blended modules.

Understanding Module Blending

Module blending in the context of solar energy projects refers to using different types of solar modules within the same project site. This approach is often driven by the need to navigate supply constraints, economic incentives and tariff relief. For instance, with the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) mandating that products be domestically manufactured or sourced from approved regions to qualify for certain tax credits, blending modules may be a viable strategy to meet these criteria while managing costs effectively.

Availability and Tax Implications

A key driver for module blending is the changing costs and availability of modules. As the industry grows, solar project developers might have a stock of certain modules procured earlier to safe harbor a project under favorable tax conditions. Then, as market conditions change, the developers might opt for a different type when additional modules are required to complete the project. A blending strategy could be particularly beneficial for meeting the domestic content requirements set by the IRA to qualify for the investment tax credit (ITC). Projects that satisfy these requirements can receive up to a 10% bonus, which is significant for the overall financial viability of a project.

Strategic Considerations for Module Blending

Several factors influence the decision to blend different solar modules on a single site:

  • Regulatory and economic drivers: Policies like the IRA and the imposition of AD/CVD on imports from certain regions play a significant role in project financial considerations. These policies make domestically manufactured products more attractive due to the associated tax benefits and reduced tariffs.
  • Cost management: Once the domestic content percentage is met, project owners can better manage project costs by utilizing nondomestic modules that cost less and reducing the number of modules that would be subject to tariff. This balance helps optimize both capital expenditures and operational efficiency.
  • Logistics and engineering challenges: Coordinating with different vendors and managing the procurement, design and installation processes for varied modules can be highly challenging. Each module type might require specific handling, different electrical configurations, particular structural designs and additional engineering efforts to maximize compatibility and efficiency. Because of such complexity, finding the right design partner is essential when considering projects at this level.

Practical Implementation

Implementing a module blending strategy involves several practical considerations:

  • Vendor coordination: Dealing with multiple vendors and manufacturers can complicate procurement. Select reliable partners and establish clear communication channels to manage time lines and logistics effectively.
  • Design and engineering: Different modules may have varying electrical characteristics, needing tailored designs for different project sections. This requires careful planning and equipment selection, as well as additional engineering efforts, to confirm that all parts work together correctly. Juggling the various module types creates an added effort for engineering teams to keep the intricacy of work consistent across the project.
  • Construction and maintenance: During construction, the crew must manage different module types thoroughly to avoid mix-ups from arrival. Careful coordination on deliveries and laydown yards must be accounted for. During installation, modules may require different racking designs that must be planned for during the engineering phase. Maintenance will also be more complex over the project's life cycle due to the need for different procedures, spare parts and cleaning routines for each individual module type. While the relative design and mounting of modules may be similar, subtle differences can often cause disruptions in the installation and maintenance process.
  • Performance testing: In areas of the plant with different modules, it may be beneficial to test each module separately to establish a performance baseline for each type. Separate performance tests may even be required by contract in some cases. The additional testing can extend the project commissioning schedule and require additional data analysis, so it is essential to plan accordingly.
  • Warranties: Developers must also know separate warranty agreements upon commissioning solar modules. This complication should be considered when looking to blend, as not every module will have the same contract. Like any prior complexities during construction or installation, warranties must be thoroughly documented and understood during project planning.

Bottom Line

By planning meticulously, blending modules can be a practical solution to meet project goals and enhance overall project feasibility in a hot market where module availability is limited. Working with an engineer-procure-construct (EPC) partner, developers can count on plans for an effective blending process being crafted early on — providing an understanding of regulatory nuances, minimizing rework and, ultimately, executing the project that achieves optimal performance and profitability.


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Martin Gonzalez is an electrical engineer and engineering manager with more than fifteen years of experience working with photovoltaic (PV) systems. He has been responsible for the full electrical design of commercial and utility-scale grid-tied PV and battery storage systems, in addition to various other renewable energy projects.