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26 February 2013

First Solar sets 18.7% record for CdTe solar cell efficiency

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 and construction (EPC) services, has set a new record for CdTe solar cell conversion efficiency, reaching 18.7% in tests confirmed by the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The firm set its last record of 17.3% in July 2011, although that was recently beaten by GE Research achieving 18.3% efficiency with its CdTe solar cells.

The latest record cell was constructed at the firm’s Perrysburg, Ohio factory and R&D center using processes and materials — including the glass substrate — that are designed for commercial-scale manufacturing.

First Solar Team

Picture: First Solar’s R&D team in Perrysburg, which has set a new record of 18.7% for CdTe solar cell efficiency (certified by NREL).

“This achievement showcases the huge potential of CdTe compared to other PV technologies and highlights the performance gains we continue to achieve thanks to our consistent and strong investment in R&D,” claims chief technology officer Raffi Garabedian. “We are confident the advanced technologies and processes we developed for this record-setting cell will further enhance the performance of our future production modules and power plants.”

First Solar says that it has continued to transfer its success in the R&D lab into its commercial modules, raising its average production module efficiency from 12.2% in fourth-quarter 2011 to 12.9% in fourth-quarter 2012. The firm’s lead line was producing modules with 13.1% efficiency during Q4, up from 12.6% a year previously.

Since beginning commercial production in 2002, First Solar has produced more than 90 million modules with a cumulative capacity of more than 7GW (enough to provide electricity for about 3.5 million homes and displace 4.7 million metric tons of CO2 annually, based on world averages).

See related items:

First Solar raises CdTe PV cell efficiency record from 16.7% to 17.3%

Tags: First Solar CdTe Thin-film photovoltaic


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