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New world record for cadmium-telluride solar cell efficiency

First Solar has set a world record for cadmium-telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) solar cell conversion efficiency, achieving 20.4% conversion efficiency certified at the Newport Corporation’s Technology and Applications Centre (TAC) PV lab and confirmed by the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The record-setting cell was constructed at the company’s Perrysburg, Ohio factory and research and development centre. This certified result bests the previous record of 19.6% percent conversion efficiency set by GE Global Research in 2013. In April 2013, First Solar and GE announced a solar technology partnership in which First Solar acquired GE’s CdTe solar intellectual property and secured a collaborative research partnership with GE’s R&D team. The partnership was formed to accelerate innovation in PV technology and accelerate solar module performance at manufacturing scale.

“This record marks another achievement in our mission to unlock the industry-changing potential of CdTe PV,” Raffi Garabedian, First Solar’s chief technology officer says. “We are demonstrating improvement in CdTe PV performance at a rate that dramatically outstrips the trajectory of conventional silicon technologies, which have already plateaued near their ultimate entitlements. The synergy realised in our partnership with GE also demonstrates the value of our consistent and strong investment in R&D. The advanced technologies and processes we developed for this record-setting cell are already being commercialised and will positively impact performance of our future production modules and power plants.”

First Solar’s new CdTe research cell conversion efficiency matches the research cell efficiency record of multicrystalline silicon, another technology used in the PV solar market.

First Solar has continued to transfer its success in the R&D lab into its commercial modules, increasing its average production module efficiency to 13.4% in the fourth quarter of 2013, up 0.6% from 12.9% in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The company’s lead line was producing modules with 13.9 percent average efficiency at the end of 2013.

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