US-based thin-film PV manufacturer First Solar is showcasing fully functional, pre-commercial, bifacial thin-film PV modules at Intersolar Europe this week in Munich, Germany. It has announced a limited production run of what it calls “the world’s first bifacial solar panel utilizing an advanced thin film semiconductor.” The cells feature thin-film CdTe for the semiconductor.
The bifacial product line is now undergoing field and laboratory testing. It builds on the company’s Series 6 Plus monofacial modules, which were first launched in 2019.
First Solar's R&D teams have reportedly developed a transparent back contact for the module. This innovative feature allows infrared wavelengths of light to pass through the back of the module instead of being absorbed as heat. It also enables bifacial energy generation. The manufacturer said that this technology will reduce the operational temperature of the module and increase its specific energy yield.
“This module combines the quality, sustainability, reliability, and long-term performance of our Series 6 Plus platform with our first increment of bifaciality,” said Pat Buehler, chief product officer at First Solar. “Once commercialized, we expect Series 6 Plus Bifacial to represent the first real alternative to crystalline silicon-based bifacial technology, effectively combining bifaciality with the industry’s best warranted degradation rate, CdTe thin film’s ability to deliver more energy per nameplate watt, best-in-class reliability and durability, and innovative module design.”
The monofacial series 6 Plus modules have power ratings from 455 W to 480 W and up to 19.0% efficiency. They offer a 0.3% warranted degradation rate, spectral response, shading behavior, and an anti-reflective coating to enhance energy production.
“Moreover, unlike crystalline silicon (c-Si) panels, First Solar’s Series 6 Plus module does not experience losses from Light Induced Degradation (LID) and Light and elevated Temperature Induced Degradation (LeTID),” said First Solar.
In October 2022, First Solar said that it would build a new R&D innovation center in Perrysburg, Ohio. The facility will be completed in 2024 with a pilot manufacturing line to produce full-sized prototypes of thin-film and tandem PV modules.
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