First Solar boasts world-record solar cell  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

Earth2Tech reports that First Solar has a set a new efficiency record for a CdTe thin film solar cell - First Solar boasts world-record solar cell.

The prices of solar panels are falling fast, and that’s putting enormous pressure on manufacturers to cut costs and improve the amount of power solar cells can convert from sunlight. Thin film solar leader First Solar says it’s even gotten a world record out of its latest efficiency developments, and on Tuesday the company boasted a 17.3 percent efficient solar cell.

The test cell exceeds the previous record of 16.7 percent for a solar cell made of cadmium-telluride set by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in 2001. The new record is critical not for bragging but for showing solar panels made with cadmium-telluride cells can have a longer presence in the market than previously expected.

Efficiency is correlated with how much power a panel of a given size can produce – more power means higher efficiencies. There is a fixed cost and amount of time for making each panel, and First Solar’s technology makes a panel in less than 2.5 hours. If the company produces each panel with a higher power rating (in watts), then that panel’s cost-per-watt is lower.

The Arizona company has been hailed as the lowest-cost solar panel manufacturer in the industry for some years now. Producing panels more cheaply than others is the key advantage for First Solar, especially when its solar panels aren’t as efficient as most others in the market. During the first quarter of this year, the company produced panels with 11.7 percent efficiency at $0.75 per watt.

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