Solar records are broken left and right. We can’t cover them all, of course, but try to cover the big ones. Recently, researchers ar Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, set a pretty big one. They increased the solar cell efficiency record of flexible solar cells made of copper indium gallium (di)selenide (aka CIGS) from 17.6% to 18.7%, a pretty significant increase. (Note: This is the same team that set the 17.6% efficiency record in June 2010).
What does this mean?
Well, by increasing efficiency of solar cells made with “cheap” and light materials and manufactured in a “cheap” way, solar power become cheaper and more people use it. This advance by Empa moves us further along on that front. Here’s that in a little more detail on this specific technological improvement from lead researcher Ayodhya N. Tiwari:
“The new record value for flexible CIGS solar cells of 18.7% nearly closes the ‘efficiency gap’ to solar cells based on polycrystalline silicon (Si) wafers or CIGS thin film cells on glass… flexible and lightweight CIGS solar cells with efficiencies comparable to the ‘best-in-class’ will have excellent potential to bring about a paradigm shift and to enable low-cost solar electricity in the near future.”
Furthermore, CIGS solar cells can be manufactured in a relatively low-cost way (compared to Si) and “such lightweight and flexible solar modules offer additional cost benefits in terms of transportation, installation, structural frames for the modules etc.”
The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Freiburg, Germany independently verified the new record.
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Image & caption via Science Daily
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