Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Solar Frontier sets new efficiency world record

TOKYO, JAPAN: Solar Frontier has achieved 17.8 percent aperture area efficiency on a 30cm x 30cm CIS-based photovoltaic submodule in joint research with Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

This new record for thin-film CIS technology was accomplished at Atsugi Research Center (ARC), Solar Frontier’s dedicated research laboratory in Japan that is the cornerstone of the company’s integrated research and production framework. After a string of major deals and production milestones unveiled in the past few months, today’s announcement underlines the company’s fundamental capability in R&D with focus on practical commercial applications.

“I would like to emphasize as we have before that this efficiency is on a fully integrated submodule, which our laboratory produces with processes very similar to what is in place in our factories at commercial production scale,” said Satoru Kuriyagawa, CTO at Solar Frontier. “Even higher efficiencies can be achieved by using a device with a very small surface area, but the reason we prefer to focus on the submodule level is that the path to commercial production is more practical. This achievement confirms that we are on track to achieve the higher module efficiencies we are targeting in our commercial production efficiency roadmap.”

“This latest efficiency achievement demonstrates Solar Frontier’s continued leadership not only in the mass production of CIS thin-film solar modules but also in the technology’s fundamental advancement, where our company’s roots lie as a pioneer of CIS,” said Solar Frontier’s senior VP, Atsuhiko Hirano. “ARC is one of the most advanced solar R&D labs in the world. Its achievements include pioneering work in the zinc oxide buffer compound that eliminates the need for cadmium. The work done here is the foundation on which our products are able to achieve more kilowatt hours under actual operating conditions, meeting the needs of residential, commercial and utility customers worldwide.”

This new record surpasses Solar Frontier’s previous world record of 17.2 percent set in March 2011.

Solar Frontier’s CIS modules are manufactured at its Kunitomi plant, which started full commercial operations last year. The technological advances made at ARC are applied to mass production through Solar Frontier’s integrated research and production framework, which includes a pilot plant equipped with the machines on which the gigawatt-scale Kunitomi plant’s machinery is based.

The Kunitomi plant recently produced a champion module at 14.5 percent aperture efficiency (13.38 percent module efficiency), achieving a 164W rating.

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