Arizona-based First Solar Inc. says it has established a new world record for cadmium-telluride (CdTe) thin-film photovoltaic (PV) research cell conversion efficiency, achieving 22.1% efficiency certified at Newport Corp.’s Technology and Applications Center (TAC) PV Lab.
According to First Solar, this is its ninth CdTe record efficiency since 2011, and this latest achievement validates CdTe’s growing competitive advantage over multi-crystalline silicon technology and other commercial thin-film PV.
The record-setting research cell was constructed at the company’s Perrysburg, Ohio, manufacturing factory and research and development center using processes and materials suitable for commercial-scale manufacturing. In addition to the Newport TAC Lab certification, the record has been documented in the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory “Best Research Cell Efficiencies” reference chart.
“We are tracking very closely to a technology roadmap we first presented in 2013 and revised upward in March 2014,” explains Raffi Garabedian, First Solar’s chief technology officer. “At that time, we said we’d hit a 22 percent research cell efficiency milestone by the end of 2015. We’ve delivered on that promise.”
Garabedian notes that First Solar’s lead manufacturing lines were producing PV modules with 16.4% conversion efficiency in the fourth quarter of 2015, and the research cell efficiency accomplishment serves as a driver for integrating performance improvement into the real-world manufacturing environment.