Japanese company breaks decade-old record with thin-film CIS cells said to be suited to mass production.
Solar Frontier: Atsugi Research Center
In joint research with Japan¡¯s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), Showa Shell Sekiyu subsidiary Solar Frontier has set a new world record conversion efficiency figure for cadmium-free, thin-film solar cells.
Measured by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), the 19.7% copper indium selenide (CIS) cells raise the bar from the previous best of 18.6%, a figure that was set ten years ago.
And although the cells are much smaller than what would be required for useful commercial applications ¨C they measured only 0.5 cm2 in area ¨C Solar Frontier says that because the cells were cut from a production-size 30 cm x 30 cm substrate, they have good potential for commercial development.
In addition, the company employed the same process of sputtering followed by selenization that it already uses to mass-produce commercial cells. Solar Frontier says that it chose this method over the alternative co-evaporation process because it offers greater efficiencies in mass production. Its researchers are now aiming to beat the current overall thin-film world record of 20.3% efficiency that was set with the co-evaporation method.
¡°This new achievement in energy conversion efficiency indicates the high level of Solar Frontier¡¯s technology and the high potential of CIS technology,¡± said Satoru Kuriyagawa, Solar Frontier's CTO.
¡°The CIS thin-film modules currently available from Solar Frontier have gained a reputation for high performance in actual power generation, as they are not easily affected by shadows or high temperatures. Now, even higher real-world performance can be expected by applying this new basic technology. We will continue working to further enhance our technological capabilities with the aim of setting a world record for thin-film solar cells overall.¡±
Solar Frontier has been making CIS modules at its Kunitomi Plant since February 2011, and says it has steadily increased its production efficiency over the following two years. ¡°Currently, the CIS thin-film solar modules produced at Kunitomi have a conversion efficiency that exceeds 13%, and the amount of electricity generated (kWh) per installed capacity (kW) exceeds that of other solar modules,¡± it claims.
¡°Showa Shell Sekiyu and Solar Frontier intend to contribute even further to the expansion of Japan¡¯s energy industry and local production and consumption using environmentally-friendly CIS thin-film solar modules made in Japan.¡±