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First Solar sets new PV panel world record

US firm breaks its own record with 21% thin film PV cell efficiency.

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First Solar has set a world record for cadmium-telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) research cell conversion efficiency.

Fresh from winning the contract to build and operate the 52MW Shams Ma’an solar plant in Jordan, the US-based company achieved 21% efficiency certified at the Newport Corporation's

Technology and Applications Center (TAC) PV Lab.
First Solar constructed the record-setting cell at its Ohio manufacturing factory and Research & Development Center, using processes and materials designed for commercial-scale manufacturing.

The record has been documented in the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) "Best Research Cell Efficiencies" reference chart.

This certified result bests the previous CdTe record of 20.4 percent conversion efficiency, which was set by First Solar in February of 2014, and represents the seventh substantial update to CdTe record efficiency since 2011.

The achievement also places First Solar's CdTe research cell efficiency above copper indium gallium diselenide based solar cells (CIGS) at 20.9 percent, and well above multicrystalline silicon (mSi), which peaked at 20.4 percent in 2004.

"We have just begun to reveal the true unrealised potential of CdTe PV," said Raffi Garabedian, First Solar's Chief Technology Officer.

"Our Advanced Research team continues to deliver extraordinary results by creating practical devices capable of commercial scale production.

“Not only have we have now demonstrated the highest single junction thin film cell on record, but just as important, our record cells are based on the same scalable manufacturing processes and commodity materials that we have proven through years of volume production."

The announcement means First Solar is on track to achieve its target achieving 22% research cell efficiency milestone by 2015.

First Solar has established a strong footprint in the Middle East in recent years. In addition to the Shams Ma’an project, it built and operates Dubai’s 13MW pilot solar project.

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