First Solar sets new world record for thin film solar PV at 21%

First Solar has produced a 21% efficient solar PV cell at its research and development (R&D) center in the U.S. state of Ohio. This efficiency has been certified by Newport Corporation’s Technology and Applications Center PV Lab.

This is a new world record not only for cadmium telluride, but all single-junction thin-film solar technologies, and has already been incorporated into the National Renewable Energy Laboratories’ (NREL) best research cell efficiencies chart.

This is also a significant improvement on First Solar’s last record of 20.4%, set in February 2014. The company’s roadmap projects a 22% cell efficiency in 2015, and First Solar says that it is ahead of schedule.

"We have just begun to reveal the true unrealized potential of CdTe PV," said First Solar Chief Technology Officer Raffi Garabedian. Garabedian notes that the company’s record-setting cells are based on the same manufacturing process and materials that it uses for mass production.

As a result, First Solar says that it is having success in transferring its R&D accomplishments to the production floor, and raised the average efficiency of the modules that it produces 0.5% to 14.0% during the second quarter of 2014.