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New World Record of 18.6 % Thin Film Module Conversion Efficiency

First Solar, Inc. has set another world record for cadmium-telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) module conversion efficiency, achieving 18.6 percent aperture efficiency for an advanced full size module. This record module is more efficient than the best multi-crystalline module recorded.

The new record for First Solar has been measured and certified by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and the achievement reinforces confidence in First Solar with its sustained product improvements.

The 18.6 percent aperture area efficiency corresponds to a full area conversion efficiency of 18.2 percent, which beats the best recorded multi-crystalline Si PERC module with an approximate full area efficiency of 17.7% (based on 19.1% aperture efficiency and published module area data).

“First Solar’s CdTe thin film is now rightly categorized as a high performance product,” said Raffi Garabedian, First Solar’s Chief Technology Officer. “We are now proving that CdTe thin film delivers both industry-leading performance AND sustainable thin-film cost structures.”

This efficiency combined with other real-world performance attributes result in First Solar technology delivering higher energy density than multi-crystalline Silicon (m-Si) solar panels. Given the same installed nameplate module capacity (Watts) with equivalent ground coverage ratio, First Solar’s CdTe product will provide up to 8 percent more useable energy from the same land area than m-Si, which gives First Solar a competitive advantage over other PV technologies.

Nick Strevel, First Solar’s Senior Manager of Technology added, “A narrow focus on simple metrics such as standard-test-condition (STC) efficiency or cost per STC-watt obscures the actual value of a solar generation technologies. Customers value energy produced by a solar power plant (kWh), not its nominal STC power rating. Metrics with greater relevance to real-world conditions – including specific energy yield, energy density, cost/kWh and long term reliability ultimately tell a much more comprehensive story of real-world performance and are more influential in reducing Levelized Cost of solar Electricity.”

About First Solar, Inc.

First Solar is a leading global provider of comprehensive photovoltaic (PV) solar systems which use its advanced module and system technology. The company’s integrated power plant solutions deliver an economically attractive alternative to fossil-fuel electricity generation today. From raw material sourcing through end-of-life module recycling, First Solar’s renewable energy systems protect and enhance the environment. 

 

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity

 

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