Japan's Panasonic opened the PV Expo trade show today in Tokyo by raising the bar in the module world record efficiency race. While the efficiency record has only been set on a small research-scale module, its 23.8% efficiency achievement indicates the growing power of solar energy.
Panasonic achieved the record using its heterojunction HIT technology. The approach deploys an amorphous silicon semiconductor onto a crystalline silicon wafer. Today's result has been verified by Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST).
The previous module efficiency record was held by America's SunPower, which achieved 22.8% module efficiency only last month.
Panasonic now claims that it holds both the silicon cell and module efficiency records, having achieved an efficiency of 25.6% on cell level in April 2014. While today's achievement is notable, it was not achieved on a full-sized module currently available in the market.
In October 2015, Panasonic announced that it had achieved 22.5% full sized module efficiency in its HIT N330 module series. The module was produced using production equipment as opposed to today's 23.8% record-setter, which was produced in the lab.
Despite the result, Panasonic appears to be facing significant challenges in today's solar market. In February, it was reported that the company was suspending operations at one of its Japanese cell plants. While efficiency records are important, Panasonic must now unlock the key to delivering high efficiencies at cost competitive prices.
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