JA Solar breaks 20% barrier with new multicrystalline silicon PV cell

JA Solar has set a new world record for multicrystalline silicon (multi-Si) PV, achieving a greater than 20% efficiency at the cell level. This represents an absolute 1% increase in efficiency nine months after the company announced a 19% efficient multi-Si PV cell.

Mass production is on the way as well, with JA saying that it plans to manufacture mutli-Si cells using the new technology and intergrate these into commercially available PV modules in 2015.

NPD Solarbuzz VP Finlay Colville says the odds that JA will be able to commercialize this technology are “very high”, and explains that this new record can be seen in light of significant recent progress with multi-Si in terms of higher efficiencies.

Colville credits this in part to an improvement in the quality of multi-Si wafers in the last few years, and says that this is enabling the use of processing techniques that were previously only used for monocrystalline silicon (mono-Si).

“Nobody ever thought five years ago, ten years ago, that people would be able to produce muliti-cSi cells above 18%, even in R&D,” notes Colville. “People can start doing things they thought they could only do in mono. And that’s been in the last 18 months.”