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First Solar Sets Another Module Efficiency Record

Posted 16 June 2015 4:30 PM by Raffi Garabedian

Yesterday, First Solar announced another record-breaking module conversion efficiency rating of 18.6 percent aperture efficiency for our advanced cadmium-telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) modules. This 18.6 percent aperture area efficiency corresponds to a full area conversion efficiency of 18.2 percent.

This easily beats the best recorded multi-crystalline Si PERC module with an approximate full area efficiency of 17.7 percent. This is the first time that First Solar has demonstrated a record module that is more efficient than the best multi-crystalline module recorded.

Aperture vs. Full Area Efficiency

There are two ways to measure PV Module efficiency: full area efficiency, which measures the power output of the entire area of the module, and aperture efficiency, which measures the power output of a portion of the module, and often excludes the inactive edge seal or frame perimeter.

Aperture area will always be higher than full area efficiency because the inactive area of the module is not part of the equation. Full area efficiency is a more practical, and more common measure – it represents the efficiency a customer will experience on a delivered commercial product, in real-world applications.

Our Advantage – Superior Design and Construction

First Solar modules’ frameless construction and innovative layout maximize useable space; there is a very small difference between our modules’ full area and aperture area efficiencies. You’ll see larger differences between the full area and aperture area efficiency of traditional silicon modules due to limitations in layout and cell and frame construction inherent to their cell-based module construction.

This achievement is the eighth substantial improvement to CdTe record efficiency since 2011, continuing a sustained upward trend in performance from our technology. The new record comes on the heels of our research cell, which reached a 21.5 percent conversion efficiency rate this past January, certified at the Newport Corporation’s Technology and Applications Center (TAC) PV Lab and confirmed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

We’re proud of this new efficiency record, and we’re also proud of the fact that our modules continue to be amongst the highest quality and most reliable modules in the world, having passed the industry’s most rigorous multi-stress testing protocols such including Atlas 25+, IEC Long-Term Sequential and Thresher Tests.

To read more about the announcement, please see our press release.

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