Improving efficiency of solar photovoltaic cells takes months, sometimes years. The last few days, however, have been very interesting as three different companies announced record-breaking efficiencies. Two of the cells even have the same technology.
Trina Solar, one of the leading solar PV modules manufacturers, announced on April 24 that it had set a new world record for high efficiency p-type multi-crystalline silicon PV modules. Trina Solar’s Honey Plus multi-crystalline silicon module reached a new module efficiency record of 19.14%. The efficiency was independently confirmed by the National Center of Supervision and Inspection on Solar Photovoltaic Product Quality (CPVT) in Wuxi, China.
On April 27, Germany-based Manz announced that it had achieved 16% efficiency in copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) solar modules. This efficiency was achieved in commercially mass-produced solar PV modules. Manz managed to transfer the 21.7% world-record efficiency it had achieved in laboratory cells in September last year. The efficiency of the modules was verified by TUV Rheinland.
On April 28, Taiwan-based TSMC Solar announced that it achieved efficiency of 16.5% in commercially produced CIGS modules, bettering the Manz’s record made the day before. TSMC also improved upon its own previous record of 15.7% efficiency, achieved in 2013. The efficiency record for TSMC modules was verified by TUV SUD.
All three efficiency records seem to be associated with mass-produced solar PV modules and there remains huge potential to further increase the efficiency. Trina Solar also holds the world record for efficiency for lab-based multi-crystalline silicon PV modules. That record currently stands at 20.8%.
For CIGS modules, it seems that First Solar and Manz jointly hold the record with 21.7% efficiency for modules produced in research labs.