New CIGS Solar Cell Record — 21.7% CIGS Cell Conversion Efficiency Achieved At ZSW

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A new CIGS thin-film solar cell conversion efficiency record was recently achieved by researchers at the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW) in Stuttgart.

The new conversion efficiency record of 21.7% beats the previous record of 21% — that was set earlier this year by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems — pretty substantially, and represents a notable improvement in the technology.


As noted by the head of ZSW’s PV division, Michael Powalla, the new record means that the efficiency lead of CIGS over multicystalline PV cells has been expanded to 1.3% — a pretty substantial lead. One that Powalla thinks improves the likelihood of CIGS technology growing to be a bigger piece of the total solar market.

Powalla states: “Our advances once again confirm the tremendous technological potential of CIGS thin-film photovoltaics. The lab data show that further efficiency improvements will be possible in the years ahead. This could drive down the cost of CIGS technology even more sharply.”

The record setting CIGS cell is the standard size used for laboratory testing — at 0.5 cm². It was manufactured via the co-evaporation process — a process that lends itself well to mass production. As evidenced by the fact that of the 40 test cells created by the researcher ???? surpassed the 21% efficiency mark.

Powalla left off with the remark that while commercial efficiencies are inevitably lower than those achieved in laboratories that commercial CIGS modules of 17-19% will probably be available in only a few years. As it stands currently, commercially available CIGS modules top out at around 15%.

Image Credit: ZSW

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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