Tempe-based First Solar, Inc. announced it has set a world record for cadmium-telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) solar cell conversion efficiency, achieving 20.4 percent conversion efficiency certified at the Newport Corporation’s Technology and Applications Center (TAC) PV Lab and confirmed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The record-setting cell was constructed at the company’s Perrysburg, Ohio factory and Research & Development Center.
This certified result bests the previous record of 19.6 percent conversion efficiency set by GE Global Research in 2013. Last April, 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,” said Raffi Garabedian, First Solar’s Chief Technology Officer. “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 realized 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 commercialized 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 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, up 0.6 percent from 12.9 percent 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.