TSMC is one of the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturers. Building on this history of manufacturing, it has been able to make significant and relatively fast gains in terms of module efficiency. TSMC achieved the latest 15.7% champion module efficiency on a commercial sized module and the company claims it is a world record for the technology. The result has been confirmed by German testing and certification company TÜV SÜD.
CIGS thin film technology has long shown a great deal of promise in terms of being able to deliver higher efficiencies than other thin film technologies and at a relatively low cost. However, actually realizing that potential is often difficult, with the deposition of the CIGS semiconductor notoriously tricky. Analyst Shyam Mehta, from GTM Research, told pv magazine, "People often say it’s not rocket science, but with CIGS it seems like it actually is!"
This makes the TSMC result, achieved in a short period of time, all the more remarkable. The 15.7% champion module is an improvement of its previous record of 1.51%, achieved in January. "Our new champion module not only pushed our efficiency record up by 0.6% points in just four months, but also achieved a record temperature coefficient of -0.26% Celsius," said Ying-Chen Chao, president of TSMC Solar.
The temperature co-efficient of CIGS is a competitive advantage of the technology. The output of the panel, in theory, does not drop off in such a pronounced fashion as c-Si modules do. "This advantage, coupled with proven robustness in the face of desert conditions, makes our new modules especially well-suited to emerging markets in MENA [the Middle East and North Africa] and Southern Africa," said TSMC Solar’s Marc Spaulding.
TSMC will be showcasing its new C1 Module at the Intersolar Europe trade show in Munich, which opens its doors on Wednesday.
The C1 Module has a nameplate power spanning 140W – 155W and has passed the Blowing Sand and Salt Mist tests. The company said it has been supplying the module from its production lines for some months.
TSMC is still running at small production volumes — an advantage in the face of current highly competitive market conditions and pricing, say company representatives.