The new, higher efficiency solar cell was manufactured in a normal production run, and the process has already been implemented into the production line.
“Considering that the solar cell is made on stainless steel, contains no cadmium and that the production process is an all-dry, all vacuum process where all layers (including the buffer layer) are deposited by sputtering, this achievement by our engineers is truly impressive,” stated Midsummer CEO Sven Lindstrom.
Midsummer’s production system is based around the individual manufacture of the solar cells, which are then strung together into modules, like crystalline solar cells. This approach makes it possible to produce flexible modules in a wide variety of different shapes and sizes.
There are other upsides to the approach/materials used as well: “Avoiding cadmium in the manufacturing process is desirable for the sake of the production staff and also makes it easier to commence low cost manufacturing of CIGS solar cells.”
“The global solar cell market is facing a paradigm shift,” Lindstrom continued. “Fewer large solar energy parks are being built in Europe. Instead, focus is moving to installations on large buildings in cities. The lightweight and flexible thin film solar cells are ideal for this use. It is economically and environmentally more beneficial to use solar energy locally, where it is produced.”
Hmm, don’t think that I entirely agree with his comments about a significant move away from conventional PV to thin-film solar cells, but thin-film solar likely does have a future in Europe.
In related news, we very recently covered a new development in the field of meta materials — the development of a new hyperbolic metamaterial that could be used in the creation of high efficiency solar cells.
While steady improvements in efficiency thanks to process improvements — like the one detailed in this article — will certainly continue to have their place, it’s potentially game-changing, entirely (or nearly) new approaches to solar cell design (like the use of new meta materials) that I think will see the technology make significant gains in the coming decades.