By Isabella Kaminski
JA Solar, which manufactures solar cells and other solar products, says its new high-power multi-crystalline solar cell has shown a conversion efficiency of 18.2% in pilot tests.
The solar cell was developed by JA Solar's research and development team using a proprietary technology called Maple. The company says that Maple gives significantly enhanced power output from multi-crystalline solar cells. Maple cells feature silicon crystals that are broader, flatter and have fewer grain boundaries than traditional multi-crystalline silicon, resulting in reduced energy wastage and improved conversion efficiency.
Although Maple cells are closer to mono-crystalline solar cells in terms of conversion efficiency, they can be produced using lower-cost multi-crystalline silicon production techniques. According to JA Solar, Maple could potentially be used to produce a more advanced range of high-power solar modules at a low cost-to-performance ratio.
Maple cells have achieved 18.2% conversion efficiency in pilot production under large-volume manufacturing conditions, and the company intends to begin commercial production in the second half of 2011.
Dr Peng Fang, CEO of JA Solar, says: "By bridging the gap between the higher efficiency of mono-crystalline technology and the lower cost of multi-crystalline cells, Maple technology can drive a new generation of high-power solar modules at attractive price points."
JA Solar is showcasing the new solar cell at the 2011 SNEC PV Power Expo in Shanghai, China, from 22-24 February.