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TSMC Solar CIGS modules hit 14.2% efficiency

The firm's current commercial TS CIGS Series which achieve 13 percent module efficiency which span 130W - 140W panels, are set to increase when the new more efficient modules go into mass production
TSMC Solar has successfully manufactured 14.2 percent efficient modules using its R&D and pilot production line at TSMC's highly-automated manufacturing facility located in Taichung, Taiwan.

These panels have entered the UL and IEC certification process with availability expected early in 2013.

TSMC has also achieved rapid improvement in its production modules, which are currently and consistently achieving 13 percent module efficiency. With this progress, the TS CIGS Series product line-up has been upgraded to span 130W - 140W panels.

"These significant improvements achieved since entering pilot production in March of this year demonstrate our ability to make rapid technology advancements. We are confident that our focus on technology improvement will enable us to continue driving efficiencies significantly higher for the next few years," says Ying-Chen Chao, President of TSMC Solar.

Since commencing customer shipments in April this year, TSMC modules have been sold to customers in the major solar markets worldwide including Germany, Italy, USA, China and India. "Customers appreciate the TS CIGS Series all-black aesthetics, energy yield advantages in hot climates and the additional yield contributed by plus-sorting and light soaking benefits," adds Stephen McKenery, TSMC Solar Worldwide Sales Head.

The main concept common to all thin-film modules is the use of a single, very thin deposited layer of semiconductor material in order to avoid the high costs of the raw materials and energy required to produce high-purity silicon wafers. A variety of semiconductor materials are used to make thin-film modules. The ones in commercial production include amorphous silicon, micromorph silicon, CdTe and compounds made of CIGS.

Unlike typical crystalline silicon module production, producing thin-film modules involves depositing thin layers of semiconductor material on a surface made of glass, metal or plastic, typically at 250 - 500°C (according to the type of material), whereas only about a tenth of the semiconductor material used in silicon wafers is required and significantly less energy needed.

As a result, the production process only has one step, making the cells, because the cells don’t have to be assembled individually, placed in an array and then interconnected for thin-film modules. Instead, they’re an intrinsic part of the module’s layer structure. A schematic of TSMC's CIGS module is shown below.

TSMC Solar’s advanced CIGS process uses sputtering to achieve low costs and flexibility in the deposition of the complex films required to produce high-quality CIGS modules.

TSMC Solar will be exhibiting at the upcoming Solar Power International, Orlando on Sep 11th - 13th (Booth 2049) and at the European PVSEC, Frankfurt on Sep 25th- 28th in Hall 3.1, Booth F22.

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