Trina Solar and ANU develop 24.4% efficient solar cell


China’s Trina Solar and the Australian National University’s (ANU) Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems have collaborated on the joint development of a new high efficiency solar cell.

The laboratory scale Interdigitated Back Contact (IBC) solar cell has achieved an efficiency of 24.4%, having been independently tested by Germany’s Fraunhofer CalLab. The verified result makes the cell one of the most efficient solar cells ever tested.

Trina Solar funded the two-year research project, which involved contributions from Australian consulting firm PV Lighthouse, and the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS).

The Chinese company is now developing a commercial version of the IBC cell, as well as an IBC PV module. In testing, Trina Solar’s commercial IBC cell has already achieved efficiency greater than 22% at laboratory scale. The company hopes to match the 24.4% level soon, ready in time for industrialized mass production.

"We are delighted to collaborate with leading scientists at ANU on this exciting new development in our cell technologies," said Trina Solar’s chief scientist and vice president, Pierre Verlinden. "This marks a milestone in solar cell research with an improved IBC cell efficiency of 24.4%. This world-class efficiency demonstrates our commitment to leading innovation in PV technology. We remain committed to engaging in effective partnerships with the best PV research centers, which are fundamental to delivering R&D breakthroughs."

The ANU’s director of the Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems, Andrew Blakers, echoed Verlinden’s sentiments, adding that the achievement of developing the highest efficiency IBC solar cell will help push laboratory cell technology to greater heights. "The work is expected to lead to commercial solar cells with improved efficiency, allowing more power to be generated from a given area of rooftop solar module," said Blakers.

"The ANU has been working to develop highly efficient back contact silicon solar cells, which have both positive and negative metallic contacts on the rear surface. That allows the surface facing the sun to be uniformly black, without the metal electrodes present on most solar cells. The back contact cell structure enables the end user to gain more electricity per unit area and a more favorable appearance."