30 November 2011

Q-Cells reports CIGS PV test module with record aperture-area efficiency of 17.4%

Q-Cells SE of Bitterfeld-Wolfen, Germany, which manufactures both silicon and thin-film copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film solar photovoltaic (PV) modules, says that a Q.SMART test of its subsidiary Solibro GmbH has raised its record for thin-film PV aperture-area module energy conversion efficiency to 17.4%, as verified independently by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) of Freiburg, Germany.

Despite measuring just 16cm2, the module was fabricated using processes fully scalable to cost-effective mass production, says Q-Cells, since the co-evaporation CIGS process uses metal flux profiles, temperature profiles and process time similar to Solibro’s current production technology.

The CIGS technology behind Q.SMART was developed in 1983 by the Ångström Solar Center at Uppsala University, Sweden, commercialized by the spin-off company Solibro in 2006, and acquired by Q-Cells in 2009. Q-Cells says that it has held the efficiency record for series-produced thin-film modules since 2009. This March, a Q.SMART module set the existing efficiency record for monolithically integrated CIGS thin-film modules in series production, with an independently confirmed aperture-area efficiency of 14.7%.

The Q.SMART CIGS PV technology harnesses a ‘light-soaking effect’ (claimed to be unique in the thin-film sector) that can boost output by an average of 2.5% above nominal power in standard field test conditions. Also, their capacity to produce high yields even when light is poor or the climate is hot makes the modules suitable for a diverse range of applications, from roof-mounted systems for residential customers to commercial roof-mounted systems and large ground-mounted utility-scale installations, claims Q-Cells. At the end of 2010, total production capacity in Thalheim, Germany had reached 135MWp.

“The current record [of 17.4%] verifies the feasibility of the efficiency roadmap of the Q.SMART module, targeting an average aperture efficiency out of series production of up to 16.7 % in 2016,” says Solibro’s chief technology officer Lars Stolt.

See related items:

Q-Cells hits record 13.4% efficiency for mass-produced CIGS thin-film PV module

Tags: Q-Cells CIGS module

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