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05/25/2013, 02:00PM ET
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On Jun 20, 2012 10:36AM ET in Clean Technology
Stion, a US company manufacturing high-efficiency, thin-film solar modules, today announced that it has achieved a new aperture efficiency record for fully certified, monolithically integrated CIGS, commercial modules (65 cm x 165 cm). The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) verified the 14.8% aperture efficiency (and 13.4% module efficiency).
These solar modules are manufactured at Stion’s Hattiesburg, MS factory.
“Reaching 14.8% efficiency on a commercial module out of our factory in MS is a significant operational and technical advancement,” said Chet Farris, Stion’s President and CEO. “We plan to continue driving our technical roadmap while maintaining our focus on capital costs and product costs.”
Just this March, Stion’s first commercial shipment of these modules from its 100-megawatt production was sent out.
“This is a truly outstanding result and we congratulate Stion on its rapid progress in Hattiesburg,” said Rommel Noufi, the lead researcher for thin-film solar cells at NREL. “Achieving 14.8% efficiency using a large-area production process indicates that Stion is continuing to make significant innovations in CIGS technology that are reproducible and scalable. It speaks to the continued importance of US-made thin-film modules in helping meet the Department of Energy’s SunShot goals.”
Due to the rapid price in conventional PV solar panels, some have declared the imminent death of thin-film solar. However, thin-film certainly still has some advantages and with continued advancements combined with a balancing of supply and demand in the conventional PV market, thin-film solar may still have a promising future.
“Stion’s unique approach to CIGS leverages proprietary materials and device expertise along with a robust, high-volume manufacturing process based on readily available, standardized equipment,” the company notes. “Utilizing a monolithically integrated circuit design instead of assembling individual cells into a module enables a lower bill of materials and more streamlined manufacturing process.”
For those who have mentioned this in the past, or might be curious about this, I am planning to create a “Solar Facts” page that lists all current solar efficiency records, as well as other key solar facts… but it’s going to take a little while longer for me to get to that. In the meantime, we’ll be sure to update you on any new solar records (like the one above) that come across our desk.