The conversion efficiency surpasses the previous record of 15.5% (aperture area only) set by Sandia National Labs 15 years ago. The multi-crystalline solar PV module conversion efficiency was independently tested by Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Germany.
Suntech's record-breaking multi-crystalline silicon solar PV module is powered by Pluto PV cells utilising solar grade silicon with each solar PV cell having a conversion efficiency over 17%. The previous record was based on a frameless module. In contrast, Suntech's new efficiency includes the framed area, without which Suntech believes it would achieve a conversion efficiency of over 16%.
Suntech says its world record conversion efficiency was accepted by the scientific journal Progress in Photovoltaics (PIP). Professor Martin Green, Research Director of the ARC Photovoltaics Centre of Excellence at the University of New South Wales, Australia, and member of the PIP committee, says: "This is a very impressive achievement for such a large module from a commercial supplier. I can confirm that the 15.6% multi-crystalline module result is the highest known conversion efficiency measured by a PIP-recognised test center."
Dr Stuart Wenham, Suntech's Chief Technology Officer, adds: "The best news is that we believe there is still room for plenty more improvement in Pluto as we push the boundaries of technology development to bring more powerful solar products to market."
Suntech has initiated commercial shipments of Pluto powered solar PV modules and currently expects to ship 10 MW to 15 MW of Pluto products in 2009.