Greentech Lead America: First Solar has set a new world record for cadmium-telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) module conversion efficiency achieving a record 16.1 percent total area module efficiency, just six weeks after it announced a new world record for CdTe solar cell efficiency of 18.7 percent.
The efficiency tests were confirmed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
Separately, First Solar also set a record for CdTe open circuit voltage (VOC), a critical parameter for PV performance, reaching 903.2 millivolts (mV) in NREL-certified testing.
This new record marks the first substantial increase in CdTe VOC in over a decade of international R&D. The new records come just six weeks after First Solar announced a new world record for CdTe solar cell efficiency of 18.7 percent.
First Solar also launched a new evolution of its proven Series 3 thin-film PV module platform, the Series 3 Black, which incorporates First Solar’s latest advances in conversion efficiency as well as additional features to enhance its performance in utility-scale power plants.
The all-black module’s change in appearance results from the use of an advanced, all-black edge seal technology combined with an innovative encapsulation material that further enhances its field durability and demonstrates improvements in accelerated life testing results.
The Series 3 Black’s performance in a wide range of operating environments is further validated by its new IEC 60068-2-68 “sand and dust test” certification, which measures durability in harsh desert environments characterized by blowing abrasive sand.
The certification complements existing IEC salt mist and ammonia certifications to provide a comprehensive range of independent testing that reflects world-class durability and performance in the harshest operating conditions.
The Series 3 Black module maintains all the existing IEC certifications and UL listings for the Series 3 family which enable the 1000-volt system designs that typify the Company’s utility-scale power plants. First Solar began to implement the Series 3 Black enhancements in production modules earlier this year.
The company also has accelerated its module conversion efficiency roadmap, raising its lead production line module efficiency target for 2015 to 15-16.2 percent. First Solar also extended its module conversion efficiency roadmap to 2017, with targets for lead production line module efficiency of 16.2-16.9 percent in 2016 and 16.4-17.1 percent in 2017.
Since it began commercial production in 2002, First Solar has produced more than 90 million of its advanced thin-film solar modules with a capacity of over 7 gigawatts (GW), enough to provide clean electricity for more than 3.7 million homes and displace approximately 5 million metric tons of CO2 annually, based on world averages.
First Solar has reported record net sales of 1.1 billion for the fourth quarter, an increase of $236 million from the third quarter of 2012 and $415 million from the fourth quarter of 2011.