First Solar sets new thin film solar cell efficiency world record

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US thin-film giant First Solar achieves 21% efficiency in cadmium telluride solar cell – a new world record that ranks CdTe up with silicon-based PV cells.

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Leading global thin-film PV manufacturer First Solar has announced a new world record for cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cell efficiency of 21 per cent, breaking its previous record of 20.4 per cent. Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 12.43.48 PM

The US-based company revealed the milestone achievement during its second quarter 2014 results earnings call, marking the the seventh update to CdTe cell efficiencies since 2011.

Before First Solar took the lead in CdTe cell efficiency, a record of 19.6 per cent was set by GE Global Research in 2013.

When two companies partnered last April, First Solar acquired GE’s CdTe solar intellectual property.

When First Solar set its first record, with 20.4 per cent efficiency, in March, chief technology officer Raffi Garrabedian said it marked another milestone in the company’s mission to unlock “the industry-changing potential” of cadmium telluride PV.

“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,” Garrabedian said in March.

First Solar’s current record-setting cell was manufactured at the company’s Ohio factory, with the results certified at Newport TAC Lab and documented in the US DOE’s National Renewables Energy Laboratory (NREL) Best Research Cell Efficiencies.

The company also noted that the record exceeded the multi-crystal and silicon records of 20.4 per cent set 10 years ago, and the current CdTe record at 20.9 per cent.

“We stated at our recent analyst day that our target research cell efficiencies by the end of 2015 is 22 per cent,” First Solar CEO Jim Hughes said during the Tuesday conference call. “This new record puts us well on our way to meeting this goal.”

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