WUXI, CHINA: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, the world's largest producer of solar panels, announced that its industry-leading Pluto cell technology set a world record 20.3 percent efficiency for a production cell using standard commercial-grade p-type silicon wafers.
Developed by Suntech's research and technology development (R&D) team, in collaboration with the University of New South Wales, the incremental innovation in Pluto cell technology underscores Suntech's investment in R&D that delivers the best solar technology to its customers at an affordable price.
"This technology breakthrough marks another critical milestone in our effort to improve solar cell efficiency, which will ultimately make solar competitive with fossil fuels," said Dr. Stuart Wenham, Suntech's CTO, and director of the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering (SPREE) at the University of New South Wales. "Technology innovation is imbued in Suntech's DNA, and as a global solar technology leader, our more than 400 R&D professionals around the world, including Australia, are committed to continually improve how we harness solar energy."
The Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore has independently confirmed the 20.3 percent efficiency of the improved Pluto cell technology, a significant improvement over the 19.6 percent best cell efficiency of the first generation Pluto cell technology. With further optimization, the efficiency of the improved Pluto cell technology is projected to reach 21 percent in the next six to 12 months.
One of the key improvements for the Pluto cell technology is the incorporation of similar high-efficiency characteristics of the record-holding PERL cell technology in the conventional Pluto cell manufacturing process. These act to improve the rear surface design of a conventional Pluto cell, primarily by reducing the metal/silicon interface area while keeping the remaining non-contacted area well-passivated. In addition, Suntech has introduced process changes that minimize the use of high temperatures which make it possible to apply the high efficiency processes to the most commonly used commercial wafers.
Following the laboratory success of the improved Pluto cell technology, Suntech is now focusing on commercializing the technology. Suntech will advise when this technology is available in future releases of Suntech solar panels.
This new record for crystalline silicon solar cells follows the recent announcement by a team of researchers from Swinburne University of Technology and Suntech on the development of the world's most efficient broadband nanoplasmonic solar cells.
Advanced cell and module technology developments are a hallmark of Suntech's success in leading solar technology innovation. This latest breakthrough reflects the results of an effective collaboration between Suntech and research institutes worldwide to commercialize innovative technology. Suntech will maintain and extend this collaboration through Suntech R&D Australia Pty Ltd, established in 2011, where project activities target the manufacturing implementation of advanced cell technologies.
Suntech has recently been commended by several reputed institutions for its innovation – MIT Technology Review recognized Suntech as one of world's 50 most innovative companies; Fast Co. recently named Suntech one of the top 10 most innovative companies in China; and EuPD awarded Suntech the 'Top Brand PV' seal, a well-respected award worldwide. In December 2011, PV Tech awarded Suntech's crystalline silicon solar panel as the most innovative solar product of 2011.