First Solar hits 17.3 percent efficiency

In a statement announcing the efficiency record, First Solar CEO Rob Gillette said, "First Solar’s innovation in both module technology and balance of systems engineering continues to drive us closer to grid parity."

Looking at production results, First Solar recorded 11.1 percent average module efficiency in the first quarter (Q1) of 2010 compared with 11.7 percent in Q1 2011. The "champion module" – or the module with the highest efficiency – has come off the production line at 13.4 percent as confirmed by NREL.

First Solar’s goal is to achieve production-module efficiency of 13.5-14.5 percent by the end of 2014. First solar’s manufacturing process can turn out a complete solar module in less than 2.5 hours.

In other First Solar news, its thin-film modules have passed the International Electrotechnical Commission’s (IEC) salt mist corrosion test. This means the that the modules can be installed in coastal environments.

First Solar will report second quarter (Q2) financial results on Thursday August 4.