In joint research with the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) of Japan, Solar Frontier has achieved 22.3% conversion efficiency on a 0.5cm² cell using its CIS technology.
This is an increase of 0.6 percentage points over the industry’s previous thin-film record of 21.7%. The Fraunhofer Institute, Europe’s largest organization for applied research, has independently verified this result according to Solar Frontier.
“This is a proud achievement for Solar Frontier and a significant advancement for our CIS technology. This is the first time that CIS has crossed the 22% efficiency boundary – a level not yet surpassed by any other thin-film or multi-crystalline silicon technology,” said Satoru Kuriyagawa, Chief Technology Officer of Solar Frontier. “This latest achievement brings us a step closer toward realizing Solar Frontier’s long-term goal of exceeding 30% efficiency using CIS.”
Solar Frontier has created the cell using the same sputtering-selenization process that it uses in mass production. This enables it to apply its latest advancements in all of its production plants in the future. For example, part of the technology used to achieve Solar Frontier’s previous record 20.9% cell, achieved in April 2014, is already being implemented at the upcoming Tohoku Plant in Miyagi, Japan. The new production plant will harness Solar Frontier’s most advanced lines to produce modules of 14.7% efficiency once it begins commercial production.
In addition to conversion efficiency, there are several factors that determine how much energy a solar module will ultimately generate in real-world conditions and, subsequently, its lifetime cost. Solar Frontier claims that their CIS modules generate more energy (kilowatt-hours per kilowatt-peak) compared to crystalline silicon in real-world conditions.