6 October 2010


Spire produces record 42.3%-efficient solar cell

Spire Corp of Bedford, MA, USA, which provides capital equipment and turnkey production lines for manufacturing photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules, says that its subsidiary Spire Semiconductor LLC of Hudson, NH has produced a record efficiency concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) solar cell. The 0.97cm2 cell was measured by the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to have a peak efficiency of 42.3% at 406 suns AM1.5D, 25ºC (42.2% at 500 suns).

This exceeds the existing record of 41.6% reported by Boeing Company subsidiary Spectrolab Inc of Sylmar, CA, USA in August 2009, which had beaten the prior record of 41.1% set by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg, Germany in 2009.

“In early 2009, Spire Semiconductor was awarded an NREL Photovoltaic (PV) Incubator subcontract to develop a high-efficiency triple-junction, gallium arsenide (GaAs) cell,” says Spire Semiconductor’s general manager Edward D. Gagnon. “In less than 18 months, we were able to validate and incorporate our new concept into a production-ready cell design with world-record efficiency,” he adds.

“NREL has been extremely helpful during the entire program, with timely responses to our confirmation requests for accurate efficiency measurements,” Gagnon continues. “Their continued support enabled us to validate our new bi-facial cell architecture,” he adds. “This higher-efficiency, next-generation GaAs CPV cell platform is now available commercially to the concentrator systems providers.”

“The availability of this new high-efficiency cell will advance next-generation CPV system performance and reduce system cost for manufacturers, helping to move solar energy ever closer to the goal of grid parity,” reckons Spire’s chairman & CEO Roger G. Little.

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