29 November 2010

Spectrolab mass produces record 39.2% solar cell

Boeing Company says that its subsidiary Spectrolab Inc of Sylmar, CA, USA has started mass production of its C3MJ+ terrestrial photovoltaic cell, which boosts average solar energy conversion efficiency from the existing C3MJ cell’s 38.5% to what is claimed to be an industry mass-production record of 39.2%.

Spectrolab says that the concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) cells — used for renewable energy — draw on the firm’s 50-year history of manufacturing solar cells for space and terrestrial applications. “These more efficient cells are drawing interest from a number of current and potential customers,” says Russ Jones, director of CPV business development.

“Last year [in August 2009] we set a new world record for efficiency with a test cell that peaked at 41.6% [as tested independently by the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory],” he adds (since surpassed this October by Spire’s 42.3%-efficient CPV cell.) The cell is a version of the lattice-matched triple-junction photovoltaic technology already in high-volume production for space and terrestrial applications, but with improvements in wafer processing to reduce how much of the cell’s area is shadowed by its metal contact grid and to improve series resistance. “We now have entered production with essentially this same technology and plan to deliver the first of these 39.2% efficiency cells in January,” says Jones.

Spectrolab says that it has introduced mass production of a new series of solar cells with increased energy-conversion efficiency each year since 2007. The existing C3MJ series entered production in mid-2009, and more than 2 million have been sold worldwide. “Given the new cells’ close similarity to our existing production cells, we believe that our current C3MJ customers will be able to easily upgrade for more efficiency,” Jones says.

The firm adds that it expects to achieve 40% average production efficiency for terrestrial solar cells in 2011.

See related items:

Spire produces record 42.3%-efficient solar cell

Tags: Spectrolab CPV

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