A new world record for energy efficiency in thin film solar panels was set up by First Solar.
The company hopes to push out of the research lab and also into its next generation of solar panels made with cadmium telluride.
First Solar achieved with its solar panels 14.4 percent energy efficiency in converting sunlight into electricity, a world record confirmed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Last year record of energy efficiency in converting sunlight into electricity was held by the same company with a 13.5 percent.
It is well known that financial health of a thin-film solar manufacturer is tied largely to the efficiency of its products. The First Solar’s goal is to produce as much power as possible from a panel using the concept of “the higher a power rating, the lower the cost-per-watt of a panel.”
Without gains in efficiency, thin-film solar companies are at risk of losing a competitive battle with makers of traditional silicon panels, which have experienced a precipitous drop in cost in recent years.
First Solar plans to increase the efficiency of its commercially produced modules — meaning not in a lab — to 14.5 to 15 percent by the end of 2015. The average efficiency of First Solar modules in production increased from 11.4 percent in 2010 to 11.7 percent in 2011 and is expected to reach 12.7 percent in the fourth quarter of this year, the company said.