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First Solar tops CdTe PV cell conversion efficiency at 21.5%

Posted: 09 Feb 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:First Solar? cadmium-telluride? CdTe? photovoltaic? Newport?

First Solar Inc. has claimed a world record for cadmium-telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) research cell conversion efficiency by achieving 21.5 per cent efficiency. The achievement was certified at the Newport Corp.'s Technology and Applications Centre (TAC) PV Lab and validates CdTe's continuing competitive advantage over traditional crystalline silicon technology.

Demonstrating that production-scale performance is keeping pace with record R&D advancements, First Solar has also announced its commercial modules have passed Atlas 25+ certification following a rigorous series of long-term combined-stress environmental exposure tests.

The record-setting research cell was constructed at the company's Perrysburg, Ohio manufacturing factory and research & development centre using processes and materials suitable for commercial-scale manufacturing. The record has been documented in the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) "Best Research Cell Efficiencies" reference chart. It is the eighth substantial update to CdTe record efficiency since 2011, firmly establishing a sustained trend of rapid performance improvements.

"Our latest research cell efficiency record is a result of continued learning in the material science and device physics of CdTe solar cells," said Raffi Garabedian, First Solar's CTO. "Our work is not done in isolation, but is in part a result of the many fruitful collaborations we have with academia, national labs and our industrial partners, most notably GE Global Research. The learning has enabled us to further optimise our fabrication processes and thereby boost the performance of practical devices further towards the theoretical limit."

Garabedian emphasised that First Solar's significant sustained investment in development of CdTe technology has enabled the company to meet or exceed its aggressive projections for improvements in research cells and modules, as well as commercialised technology. In March of 2014, First Solar presented a technology roadmap anticipating a 22 per cent research cell efficiency milestone in 2015.

First Solar's focus on module durability continues to yield results for commercially available products. In late January, First Solar's production PV modules achieved Atlas 25+ certification status following a rigorous series of long-term combined-stress environmental exposure tests.

The Atlas 25+ certification stresses durability and degradation against accelerated environmental conditions experienced in long-term service. According to Azmat Siddiqi, SVP for quality and reliability, First Solar modules passed the Atlas 25+ stress tests for all parameters, including power output, insulation resistance and visual damage in the hot/arid, subtropical, temperate and "global composite" climate simulations.

Siddiqi said testing was conducted by Atlas Material Testing Technology, and that formal certification documentation will be issued by SGS, a leading inspection, verification, testing and certification organisation recognised for providing global benchmarks for quality and integrity.

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