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24 June 2013

Solar Frontier reaches 14.6% efficiency with 1257mm x 977mm CIS module

Tokyo-based Solar Frontier - the largest manufacturer of CIS (copper indium selenium) thin-film photovoltaic (PV) solar modules - says that its latest champion module from its flagship gigawatt-scale Kunitomi Plant in Miyazaki, Japan, has achieved 14.6% conversion efficiency. The rated capacity of the 1257mm x 977mm module has been certified by Underwriters Laboratories Inc (UL) at 179.8W. 

The efficiency is at the same level as mass-marketed polycrystalline silicon modules, the firm says (as of April, the efficiency of polycrystalline silicon modules is about 15%, according to GTM Research senior solar analyst Shyam Mehta in ‘The module market landscape’, GTM Solar Summit 2013). Manufacturing the new CIS module on a production line at the Kunitomi Plant suggests an accelerated outlook for transferring the technology to full mass production, the firm says.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of R&D on CIS technology at parent company Showa Shell Sekiyu. Solar Frontier’s other recent milestones include the world’s highest aperture area efficiency of 17.8% for a 30cm x 30cm CIS solar module, and record conversion efficiency of 19.7% for a cadmium-free CIS solar cell (about 0.5cm2 in area).

CIS technology has the potential to achieve even higher energy conversion efficiency, says Solar Frontier, and there is also room for further production cost reductions. The firm says that its manufacturing process requires a lower quantity of raw materials and energy, so its CIS solar modules have a lower environmental impact.

“Champion modules are a key validation of technology transfer from Solar Frontier’s laboratories,” says chief technology officer Satoru Kuriyagawa. “This is the kind of result we look for in the production factory once we have confirmed experimental results and simulation in our pilot plant at Atsugi Research Center.”

Tags: Solar Frontier CIS


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