Solar Frontier sets thin-film PV world record with 20.9% CIS cell

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Japan’s Solar Frontier has achieved 20.9% conversion efficiency on a 0.5-square-centimeter CIS cell.

The company achieved the world record conversion efficiency for thin-film PV technologies in joint research with the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

The accomplishment beat Solar Frontier’s previous world record of 19.7% conversion efficiency for CIS thin-film cells that do not contain cadmium, on top of the previous-best 20.8% cell efficiency record set for all thin-film PV technologies. Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute, Europe’s largest application-oriented research organization, independently verified the result.

"Solar Frontier’s new 20.9% efficiency record resulted from a CIS cell cut from a 30-cm by 30-cm substrate produced using a sputtering-selenization formation method — the same method we use in our factories," said Solar Frontier Chief Technology Officer Satoru Kuriyagawa, adding that the company had entered into the next phase in the development of CIS technology.

"The significance is twofold: it ensures we can transfer our latest achievement into mass production faster, and it proves the long-term conversion efficiency potential of Solar Frontier’s proprietary CIS technology."

Conversion efficiency is a popular measurement used to compare the performance of solar modules. Actual performance after installation, however, depends on how differing PV technologies react to their surrounding environment and climate.

While its latest record was set as part of a lab test at the Atsugi Research Center (ARC) in Kanagawa, Japan, Solar Frontier said its CIS modules were proven to generate more electricity (kilowatt hour per kilowatt peak) in real operating conditions than crystalline silicon modules.