First Solar sets cadmium-telluride PV module efficiency record

First Solar Thin Film module

First Solar has achieved 18.6 percent aperture area efficiency with an advanced full size cadmium-telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) module.

The company claims this to be a first and an improvement on the best multicrystalline silicon (m-Si) module.

The record has been measured and certified by the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The CdTe module has also recorded full area conversion efficiency of 18.2 percent, against the 17.7 percent efficiency recorded for multi-crystalline Si PERC module (based on 19.1% aperture efficiency and published module area data).

According to a statement issued by First Solar, the new efficiency record was the “eighth substantial update to CdTe module record efficiency since 2011”.

In January, First Solar had produced a research cell with 21.5 percent conversion efficiency, certified at the Newport Corporation’s Technology and Applications Center (TAC) PV Lab and confirmed by NREL.

Raffi Garabedian, First Solar’s Chief Technology Officer, said: “We are now proving that CdTe thin film delivers both industry-leading performance and sustainable thin-film cost structures.”

“Silicon technologies have approached their theoretical efficiency entitlement and leveled out in terms of performance and cost.”

Nick Strevel, First Solar’s Senior Manager of Technology, noted that given the same installed nameplate module capacity (Watts) with equivalent ground coverage ratio First Solar’s CdTe product will provide up to 8 percent more useable energy from the same land area than m-Si.

Ajith Kumar S