27 January 2011

HelioVolt’s CIGS PV module completes lifetime testing

HelioVolt Corp of Austin, TX, USA says that its first commercial thin-film copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) photovoltaic (PV) modules have completed rigorous accelerated lifetime testing, with results showing degradation rates 1–2 orders of magnitude lower than typical module performance required to pass UL and IEC certification.

The modules are based on HelioVolt’s proprietary CIGS manufacturing process. The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently confirmed the firm's conversion efficiency of 11.8% for its monolithically integrated 1.2m x 0.6m module size (current HelioVolt cell efficiencies are 14–15%).

HelioVolt said it has invested considerable resources in providing module reliability and field performance. The products demonstrate what is claimed to be a new benchmark required to maximize energy generation over the module’s lifetime, minimizing the ¢/kWh energy cost.

“[CdTe PV module maker] First Solar has shown that thin-film modules can deliver utility-scale solar power at a compelling cost,” says HelioVolt’s CEO Jim Flanary (formerly First Solar’s chief operating officer). “As the next generation of monolithic thin-film products enters the market, we need to continue to build on the high-efficiency and low-cost promise of CIGS and drive towards higher field performance and higher reliability standards,” he adds.

In addition to the rigorous accelerated lifetime testing of HelioVolt’s modules, the firm has invested in a rooftop test site at its factory, serving as a model for in-the-field performance. The outdoor testing facility compares the performance of traditional multi-crystalline silicon modules alongside state-of-the-art thin-film modules from a variety of manufacturers. Monitoring module electrical and physical characteristics in step with irradiance, ambient temperatures and humidity, HelioVolt has also been tracking its module performance against its competition.

HelioVolt says that the test site is a demonstration of its diligence to ensure delivery of reliable, competitive thin-film modules. The data is available to its partners for installation and solar project financial planning purposes. Company representatives is presenting additional updates at this week’s SPIE’s Optoelectronic Integrated Circuits XIII Conference at the Photonics West event (26–27 January) as well as at Photon’s 3rd Thin Film Conference (16 February), both in San Francisco.

Tags: HelioVolt CIGS PV

Visit: www.heliovolt.com

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