At a presentation held SolarWorld headquarters in Freiberg, Germany, yesterday, the solar manufacturer announced a PERC cell efficiency of 22%, coming in just behind Trina Solar, which retains its 22.13% world record efficiency, set last October. Over the past year, the two companies have alternated in setting PERC world records. SolarWorld announced last year that it was looking to hit 22.5% by 2017.
Germanys Fraunhofer ISE confirmed SolarWorlds latest efficiency gain, with all five of the industrially manufactured cells sent to the institute recording 22%. It will take, in all probability, one to two years to transfer this efficiency to mass production, however, said Holger Neuhaus, CEO of SolarWorld Innovations.
He added that while 50 MW of production capacity has been set aside for the new efficiency, this could be quickly ramped up by another 250 MW. According to the company, it is the first manufacturer to convert PERC technology into mass production, already in 2012. One of the main challenges of the technology is to minimize the light-induced degradation, which can often occur.
SolarWorld is also busy working on other technological developments, which are affecting the solar industry. In addition to a new bifacial module, the company introduced a so-called half-cell module. The latter, which sees the cells cut into half cells and then connected with a wire mesh, instead of busbars, has seen module efficiency climb 6%.
This new connection technology is also offered by Meyer Burger as multi-wire and Schmid under the name multi-busbar. Companies have been trying to employ the technology for around a year. REC won last years Intersolar Award for its TwinPeak module series, which uses half-cut cells and wire mesh. LG shared the same award for its NeON 2 modules, which use whole cells.
The innovation developments by SolarWorld took place within the framework of the Helen and Laura projects, in which further partners from research and industry are involved. Both projects are part of the Energy Research Program of the German Federal Government and will run until September 2017.
Translated and edited by Becky Beetz from pv magazine Deutschland