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Solar Giants’ Fates May Hinge on a Fight Over 28 Millimeters

A battle over the best size for a key part used to harness the sun’s energy may determine which company has the edge in a $200 billion industry.

An employee inspects photovoltaic cells at the Longi Green Energy Technology Co. plant in Xi'an.

An employee inspects photovoltaic cells at the Longi Green Energy Technology Co. plant in Xi'an.

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg
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Two Chinese solar giants are in a tussle over technology standards that hinges on a mere 28 millimeters, with the outcome set to determine which company has an edge going forward in the $200 billion industry.

The combatants are the world’s biggest solar manufacturers, pitting industry leader Longi Green Energy Technology Co. against the world’s second-biggest player Trina Solar Co. And the battle involves bragging rights over the ideal size for wafers, the key component for making solar modules: Which is better, Longi’s 182-millimeter version, or Trina’s 210-millimeter?