28 February 2012

Solar Frontier sets record thin-film CIS PV efficiency of 17.8%

In joint research with Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), Tokyo-based Solar Frontier (a subsidiary of Japanese energy business Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K.) has achieved record efficiency for thin-film copper indium selenium (CIS) photovoltaic technology

The aperture-area efficiency of 17.8% (for a 30cm x 30cm CIS submodule) surpasses the previous record of 17.2%, also set by Solar Frontier (in March 2011).

The new record was accomplished at Atsugi Research Center (ARC), Solar Frontier’s dedicated research laboratory in Japan, which is described as the cornerstone of the firm’s integrated research and production framework.

The company says that, after a series of deals and production milestones unveiled in the past few months, the latest efficiency record underlines its fundamental capability in R&D, with a focus on practical commercial applications.

“This efficiency is on a fully integrated submodule, which our laboratory produces with processes very similar to what is in place in our factories at commercial production scale,” notes chief technology officer Satoru Kuriyagawa. “Even higher efficiencies can be achieved by using a device with a very small surface area, but the reason we prefer to focus on the submodule level is that the path to commercial production is more practical... We are on track to achieve the higher module efficiencies we are targeting in our commercial production efficiency roadmap,” he adds.

ARC’s achievements include pioneering work in the zinc oxide buffer compound that eliminates the need for cadmium, says senior VP Atsuhiko Hirano. “The work done here is the foundation on which our products are able to achieve more kilowatt hours under actual operating conditions, meeting the needs of residential, commercial and utility customers worldwide,” he adds.

Solar Frontier’s CIS modules are manufactured at its Kunitomi plant, which started full commercial operations last year. The technical advances made at ARC are applied to mass production through Solar Frontier’s integrated research and production framework, which includes a pilot plant equipped with the machines on which the gigawatt-scale Kunitomi plant’s machinery is based.

The Kunitomi plant recently produced a champion module with aperture efficiency of 14.5% (13.38% module efficiency), achieving a 164W rating.

Tags: Solar Frontier CIS thin-film PV modules

Visit: www.solar-frontier.com

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