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Solar Frontier achieves world record thin-film solar cell efficiency

Record cell independently verified by the Fraunhofer Institute

World record for thin-film solar cell efficiency
World record for thin-film solar cell efficiency

Solar Frontier, the world’s largest CIS solar energy provider, has set a new world record for thin-film solar cell efficiency. In joint research with the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) of Japan, Solar Frontier achieved 22.3% conversion efficiency on a 0.5cm² cell using its CIS technology. This is an increase of 0.6 percentage points over the industry’s previous thin-film record of 21.7%. The Fraunhofer Institute, Europe’s largest organization for applied research, has independently verified this result.

“This is a proud achievement for Solar Frontier and a significant advancement for our CIS technology. This is the first time that CIS has crossed the 22% efficiency boundary – a level not yet surpassed by any other thin-film or multi-crystalline silicon technology,” said Satoru Kuriyagawa, Chief Technology Officer of Solar Frontier. “This latest achievement brings us a step closer toward realizing Solar Frontier’s long-term goal of exceeding 30% efficiency using CIS.”

Kuriyagawa continued: “We would like to express our gratitude to the CIS research consortium organized by NEDO, which includes the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), for supporting this joint NEDO project. Solar Frontier will continue to stand at the forefront of research and development, transferring new discoveries into mass production and delivering higher energy yields and lower energy costs to all customers.”

Solar Frontier created the cell using the same sputtering-selenization process that it uses in mass production. This enables it to apply its latest advancements in all of its production plants in the future. For example, part of the technology used to achieve Solar Frontier’s previous record 20.9% cell, achieved in April 2014, is already being implemented at the upcoming Tohoku Plant in Miyagi, Japan. The new production plant will harness Solar Frontier’s most advanced lines to produce modules of 14.7% efficiency once it begins commercial production.

“Solar Frontier is proud to be a technology leader in the solar energy industry,” said Atsuhiko Hirano, CEO of Solar Frontier. “Increasing conversion efficiency is a key component in driving down the total lifetime cost of solar energy for homeowners and businesses.” 

In addition to conversion efficiency, there are several factors that determine how much energy a solar module will ultimately generate in real-world conditions and, subsequently, its lifetime cost. Solar Frontier’s CIS modules generate more energy (kilowatt-hours per kilowatt-peak) compared to crystalline silicon in real-world conditions. 

Building on its latest research achievement, Solar Frontier will continue to advance its CIS technology in pursuit of its vision: a future where solar energy enables a cleaner, more comfortable lifestyle for all.