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First Solar achieves 22.1 percent efficiency with CdTe

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Thin film record on research cell continues performance advancement trend


First Solar has established a record for CdTe photovoltaic (PV) research cell conversion efficiency, achieving 22.1 percent efficiency certified at the Newport Corporation's Technology and Applications Center (TAC) PV Lab.

The research cell was constructed at the company's Perrysburg, Ohio manufacturing factory and Research & Development Center using processes and materials suitable for commercial-scale manufacturing.

In addition to the Newport TAC Lab certification, the record has been documented in the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) "Best Research Cell Efficiencies" reference chart.

This is the ninth substantial update to CdTe record efficiency since 2011, according to the company, establishing a sustained trend of performance improvements.

"We are tracking very closely to a technology roadmap we first presented in 2013 and revised upward in March 2014," said Raffi Garabedian, First Solar's chief technology officer.

"At that time, we said we'd hit a 22 percent research cell efficiency milestone by the end of 2015. We've delivered on that promise. The accomplishment validates our continued confidence in CdTe as a superior PV material that combines cost effectiveness, reliability and high performance.

He added: "In recent years and based on our research cell progress, we've improved the efficiency and energy density of our mass produced commercial PV modules at a rate at least three times faster than our multi-crystalline Si competitors. We fully expect to further separate ourselves from the pack in coming years."

Garabedian noted that First Solar's lead manufacturing lines were producing PV modules with 16.4 percent conversion efficiency in 4Q 2015, and that the research cell efficiency accomplishment serves as a powerful driver for integrating performance improvement into the real-world manufacturing environment.

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