JAPAN: Solar Frontier’s latest champion module from its flagship Kunitomi Plant in Miyazaki, Japan, has achieved 14.6 percent conversion efficiency. The rated capacity of this 1257mm x 977mm module has been certified by Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) at 179.8W.
This achievement is at the same level* in terms of efficiency as mass-marketed polycrystalline silicon modules. Solar Frontier’s success in manufacturing this new CIS module on a production line at the Kunitomi Plant suggests an accelerated outlook for transferring this technology to full mass production.
2013 marks the 20th anniversary of R&D on CIS technology at Showa Shell Sekiyu, Solar Frontier’s parent company. Other recent milestones include the world’s highest aperture area efficiency of 17.8 percent for a 30cm x 30cm CIS Solar module, and a world-record energy efficiency of 19.7 percent for a cadmium-free CIS solar cell (approx. 0.5 cm2).
CIS technology has the potential to achieve even higher energy conversion efficiency, and there is also room for further production cost reductions. Solar Frontier’s manufacturing process requires a lower quantity of raw materials and energy, which also means its CIS solar modules have a lower environmental impact. The higher efficiencies strengthen the competitive edge of a CIS solar module that is rapidly gaining a reputation for higher actual output in real world conditions.
“Champion modules are a key validation of technology transfer from Solar Frontier’s laboratories,” said Solar Frontier CTO, Satoru Kuriyagawa. “This is the kind of result we look for in the production factory once we have confirmed experimental results and simulation in our pilot plant at Atsugi Research Center.”
*As of April, 2013, the conversion efficiency of polycrystalline silicon modules is considered to be around 15 percent," according to Shyam Mehta, senior solar analyst, GTM Research in “The module market landscape”, GTM Solar Summit 2013.