17 January 2012

First Solar raises CdTe PV module efficiency record from 13.4% to 14.4%

First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA, which makes thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe) as well as providing engineering, procurement & construction (EPC) services, has set a new record for CdTe PV module efficiency of 14.4% total area efficiency. The US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) confirmed the record, which eclipsed the prior record of 13.4% (also set by First Solar).

Announced at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates by First Solar chief technology officer Dave Eaglesham, the record comes just six months after First Solar leapfrogged the record for CdTe solar cell efficiency with a mark of 17.3%. Cell efficiency measures the proportion of light converted to energy in a single solar cell, whereas total area module efficiency measures light conversion across a production-size, multi-cell solar module, providing a more realistic assessment of real-world performance than cell or aperture-area efficiency. Both the cell and module record-setters were constructed using commercial-scale manufacturing equipment and materials at the firm’s factory in Perrysburg, OH.

“This considerable achievement supports our module efficiency roadmap and demonstrates our ability to convert our record-cell technology into ongoing module-level improvements,” says chief technology officer Dave Eaglesham. “These records also underscore the tremendous ongoing potential of CdTe compared to silicon-based technologies,” he adds.

First Solar updated its module efficiency roadmap in December 2011 to the increased goal of 14.5-15% average efficiency for its production modules by the end of 2015, and the process improvements developed for the record-setting cell and module continue to be implemented as part of that roadmap. The average efficiency of First Solar modules increased from 11.4% in 2010 to 11.7% in 2011 and is expected to reach 12.7% in fourth-quarter 2012.

“Our continuous investment in R&D has enabled the steady progress of our technology, punctuated by landmark achievements such as this,” says chairman & interim CEO Mike Ahearn. “Our consistent progress gives us confidence in our ability to achieve our roadmap goals, drive down costs and develop sustainable markets,” he adds.

Tags: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe

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