First Solar Cadmium-Telluride Cell Hits 17.3 Percent Efficiency

First Solar Inc. says the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has confirmed that the company's cadmium-telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic solar cell has reached a new world record in efficiency: 17.3%.

‘This leap forward in R&D supports our efficiency roadmap for our production modules and will recalibrate industry expectations for the long-term efficiency potential of CdTe technology,’ says Dave Eaglesham, chief technology officer at First Solar.

The average efficiency of First Solar modules produced in the first quarter of 2011 was 11.7%, up from 11.1% a year earlier, the company says. First Solar adds that it has recorded full-module efficiencies over 13.5%, with a 13.4% module confirmed by NREL.

First Solar notes that its module efficiency roadmap sets a goal for production-module efficiencies of 13.5% to 14.5% by the end of 2014. The 17.3% efficiency figure was reached with a test cell constructed using commercial-scale manufacturing equipment and materials.

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