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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

02/06/09: EU researchers achieve €1/Wp and module efficiencies of 16.4%

European photovoltaic research project achieves new world record in efficiency

Researchers of the European funded project CrystalClear have successfully developed innovative technologies for silicon solar modules to be manufactured at €1 per watt-peak of power. Moreover they have achieved world-record efficiencies for modules with multicrystalline silicon solar cells. Their full-size solar modules have achieved a premium aperture area conversion efficiency of 16.0 to 16.4%.

The previous world-record was held by Sandia National Laboratory (USA), at 15.5% aperture-area efficiency. This means that the main project target of reducing the costs of PV modules by more than 50% (if produced in large volumes) has been achieved.

The low-cost technologies developed in the consortium are all characterised by the use of very thin silicon wafers, advanced solar cell designs and processing, innovative module assembly, and high efficiencies. An important common feature is the very effective reduction of conversion losses that normally occur at the surfaces of the cells.

The world record was achieved using industrial-scale equipment for interconnection and encapsulation of rear-contact cells. The new module design and manufacturing process is based on interconnection of the cells using conductive adhesives and a patterned conductive foil. The 16.0% efficient module was built with 36 cells of 120 micron thickness only (the 16.4% module had 160 micron cells), much thinner than the 180-200 micron thickness used by industry. All modules were made without any cell breakage, underlining the potential for cost reduction and the feasibility for use in production

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