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19 March 2014

First Solar raises CdTe total area module efficiency record from 16.1% to 17%, highest of any thin-film

First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA, which makes thin-film photovoltaic modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe) as well as providing engineering, procurement & construction (EPC) services, has raised the record for CdTe total area module efficiency from 16.1% (which it set in April 2013) to 17%, as confirmed in tests performed by the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Just in late February, First Solar announced it set a record in CdTe research cell efficiency of 20.4%.

The record module was created at First Solar’s Research and Development Center in Perrysburg, OH using production-scale processes and materials, and included several recent technology enhancements that are incrementally being implemented on the firm’s commercial production lines.

Notably, First Solar’s research module also has a confirmed ‘aperture area’ conversion efficiency of 17.5%. The firm says that many manufacturers often quote this aperture area efficiency when claiming record performance, particularly for small mini-modules custom-built in R&D labs. First Solar says that its record significant because it is full production size.

“This achievement demonstrates our ability to rapidly and reliably transfer research results to full-size modules,” says chief technology officer Raffi Garabedian. “We can take CdTe innovation from the lab to production faster and more reliably than other technologies due to our robust, adaptable manufacturing processes and the accommodating nature of CdTe material technology,” he reckons. “Our R&D efforts are delivering technology that will quickly be scaled to real-world application as part of our integrated power plant systems.”

Garabedian reckons that the efficiency record is also a signal that First Solar’s CdTe modules are becoming a more attractive option for application in constrained-space projects and commercial/industrial installations. “With the highest demonstrated thin-film module performance, we are positioned to pursue new deployment opportunities around the world.”

Based on the firm’s sustained rapid technology development, Garabedian says that First Solar has accelerated its production module conversion efficiency roadmap, raising its year-end lead-line production nameplate efficiency target to 15.6-15.8% for 2015, 17.7-18.4% for 2016 (up from the prior target of 16.2-16.9%), and 18.1-18.9% for 2017 (up from 16.4-17.1%).

See related items:

First Solar raises CdTe solar cell efficiency record to 20.4%, matching multi-crystalline silicon record

First Solar raises CdTe total area module efficiency record from 14.4% to 16.1%; Series 3 Black module launched

Tags: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe

Visit: www.firstsolar.com

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