Published on December 5th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan8
New Thin-Film Solar Module Efficiency Record Set
Yes, it’s that time again — another solar power efficiency record has been set! The category: thin-film solar module efficiency. The company: Solibro, a subsidiary of the large German solar company Q-Cells SE. The efficiency: 17.4% (of aperture area). The confirming party: the independent Fraunhofer ISE Institute. Where will the technology be used? In “next generation CIGS thin-film technology for Q.SMART modules.”
More details from Q-Cells:
The record test module, with size 16 cm2, was fabricated using processes fully scalable to cost-effective mass production. The co-evaporation CIGS (Copper Indium Gallium Selenid) process uses metal flux profiles, temperature profiles as well as process time similar to Solibro’s current production.
“We are very proud of this result as it demonstrates the leadership of the CIGS technology produced by Q-Cells’ subsidiary Solibro. The current record verifies the feasibility of the efficiency roadmap of the Q.SMART module targeting an average aperture efficiency out of series production of up to 16.7 % in 2016”, said Lars Stolt, CTO of Solibro.
Already in March 2011, a Q.SMART thin-film module, marked a world-record, with an independently confirmed efficiency rating of 14.7% which still is the world-record for monolithically integrated CIGS thin film modules in series production, today.
Q.SMART’s CIGS technology harnesses a “light-soaking” effect unique in the thin-film sector to generate an average of 2.5 percent power boost above nominal power at standard test conditions. Q.SMART also outperforms in diverse environmental conditions, including low-light periods of the day and high-heat climates. Ideal for residential, commercial and utility-scale settings, Q.SMART comes along with a positive sorting; i.e. customers always receive what they pay for – and more. In October 2011 Q-Cells realised a lighthouse project by delivering around 200.000 Q.SMART modules into the world’s largest CIGS solar power plant located in Ammerland, Germany.
The CIGS technology behind Q.SMART was developed in 1983 by the Ångström Solar Center at Uppsala University, Sweden, commercialized by the spin-off company Solibro in 2006, and acquired by Q-Cells in 2009. Q.SMART is produced in Thalheim, Germany, at the company’s own factory with a total nominal production capacity of 135 MWp.
With this world-record Q-Cells has marked the fifth world record in 2011 underpinning the technological leadership of its products. Next to the two world-records in the CIGS sector, a polycrystalline solar module from Q-Cells’ in-house research centre achieved a module efficiency of 18.1% related to the aperture area in July 2011. Recording this efficiency, Q-Cells has beaten its own world record of 17.8%, set in spring 2011. In April 2011, a cell produced on the basis of the Q.ANTUM technology had already set a record for major polycrystalline solar cells, achieving an efficiency of 19.5%.