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Clean Power JA Solar high efficiency PERCIUM solar cells.

Published on June 24th, 2014 | by Tina Casey

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JA Solar Set For Mass Production Of High Efficiency Solar Cells

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June 24th, 2014 by
 
We’ve been spending an awful lot of time on concentrating solar power lately, so now is a good time to step back and see what’s up in the world of high efficiency photovoltaic cells. The company JA Solar, for one, has just released a tasty little tidbit about its plans to accelerate production of its PERCIUM modules, featuring its new high efficiency solar cells.

JA Solar PERCIUM high efficiency solar cells.

Solar cell production courtesy of JA Solar.

JA Solar And High Efficiency Solar Cells

JA Solar is already one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high performance solar cells, and just last February it launched its new 6×10 PERCIUM solar modules.

JA Solar clams that its new PERCIUM solar cells are the first p-type solar cells to beat the 20 percent mark in conversion efficiency, which it puts at 20.4 percent (p-type refers to monocrystalline silicon solar cells).

You don’t have to just take their word for it. The company tested thousands of its PERCIUM solar cells last year and consistently averaged above 20 percent, a result confirmed by Germany’s Fraunhofer ISE’s photovoltaic calibration laboratory.

The 6×10 PERCIUM module has an average power rating of 285W. With a little more tweaking the rating could reach an average of 290W by the end of the year.

The key to PERCIUM’s high efficiency is JA Solar’s focus on passivated backside and local BSF technology, which enables good low-light performance.

If you don’t know what passivated or BSF mean we looked them up so you don’t have to.

According to our friends over at pveducation.org, BSF (aka back surface field) refers to a region at the rear surface of the solar cell.

Passivation refers to anti-corrosion materials, corrosion being an obvious enemy of solar cell efficiency.

High Efficiency Solar Cells Meet High Production

Conversion efficiency and low-light performance aren’t the only things that caught our eye. Here in the US, the cost of a solar cell accounts for roughly 35 percent of the installed cost of solar power. If you’re saving a significant amount on materials, fabrication, transportation, and installation you don’t have to push the efficiency envelope to the absolute limit in order to put together a cost-competitive package.

JA Solar also seems to have an edge there. Altogether the 6×10 module produces about eight percent more power per unit area than average, and the module is designed to cut costs related to transportation and installation.

The company also paid attention to balance-of-system costs, which is where the DC electricity from the solar cell gets converted to usable AC current.

The company will set one production line going to produce the 6×10 modules in just a few days from now, and that one line is just the beginning. By October 2014 JA Solar expects to have four production lines up and running, and four more in 2015 for a total of eight.

 

That adds up to 170MW of capacity this year, and about 350 MW next year.

Concentrating Solar Power Vs. Photovoltaic Cells

Just last February, Lux Research painted a rather gloomy picture of the outlook for concentrating solar power (CSP), partly due to gains in high efficiency solar cell development along with the falling cost of solar cells, and JA Solar’s march into the high effiency solar cell market bears that out.

However, the solar cell industry is still dependent on exotic materials, and as the solar market grows that supply chain could get stretched pretty thin, giving concentrating solar power the edge.

Stay tuned.

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About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



  • http://electrobatics.wordpress.com/ arne-nl

    “percent (p-type refers to monocrystalline silicon solar cells).”

    I’m not sure how to interpret this statement, but p-type solar cells, as opposed to n-type, have nothing to do with monocrystalline, as multicrystalline solar cells can be produced in the p-type or n-type varieties too.

    Copy-pasted this from another article:

    “The process of adding impurities on purpose is called doping, and when doped with phosphorous, the resulting silicon is called N-type (“n” for negative) because of the prevalence of free electrons. N-type doped silicon is a much better conductor than pure silicon.

    The other part of a typical solar cell is doped with the element boron, which has only three electrons in its outer shell instead of four, to become P-type silicon. Instead of having free electrons, P-type (“p” for positive) has free openings and carries the opposite (positive) charge.”

    The highest efficiency silicon solar cells today are n-type. Most notable examples are Sunpower and the Panasonic HIT panels.. They both use n-type cells. Another advantage of n-type cells is the lower temperature coefficient, meaning they lose less efficiency when they heat up.

  • http://www.michaeljberndtson.com/ Michael Berndtson

    The DC to AC conversion seems like a big barrier to more rapid deployment. It’s another thing in the overall cost, apparently from above. Supposedly DC as HVDC loses less to heat during transmission. Why not put up a DC line along side AC lines. Piggybacking off the same transmission infrastructure. Or something probably more electrical engineering-ly feasible.

    Some in the esteemed business press say that PV is no good because there is only 6 hours of sufficient power. In the US, this could be extended to at least 10 hours simply by PV panels on one end of the country powering up need for the other end. Following the sun.

  • tibi stibi

    if solar cells go up from 16% to 20% efficiency than you will need 1/4 less panels to get the same amount of energy!
    so it saves 25% on cost and you can get 25% more from you rooftop :)

    hope these will get into the shops soon!

  • rveenr

    “Passivation refers to anti-corrosion materials, corrosion being an obvious enemy of solar cell efficiency”

    passivation actually refers to a material which is used to prevent recombination of generated electrons with holes at defect sites in the silicon near the back metal contacts…. nothing to do with corrosion

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