17.8% efficient submodule builds bridge to higher commercial efficiencies
TOKYO, February 28, 2012 – Solar Frontier announced today that it has achieved 17.8% aperture area efficiency on a 30cm x 30cm CIS-based photovoltaic submodule in joint research with Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). This new record for thin-film CIS technology was accomplished at Atsugi Research Center (ARC), Solar Frontier's dedicated research laboratory in Japan that is the cornerstone of the company's integrated research and production framework. After a string of major deals and production milestones unveiled in the past few months, today's announcement underlines the company's fundamental capability in R&D with focus on practical commercial applications.
"I would like to emphasize as we have before that this efficiency is on a fully integrated submodule, which our laboratory produces with processes very similar to what is in place in our factories at commercial production scale," said Satoru Kuriyagawa, Chief Technology Officer at Solar Frontier. "Even higher efficiencies can be achieved by using a device with a very small surface area, but the reason we prefer to focus on the submodule level is that the path to commercial production is more practical. This achievement confirms that we are on track to achieve the higher module efficiencies we are targeting in our commercial production efficiency roadmap."
"This latest efficiency achievement demonstrates Solar Frontier's continued leadership not only in the mass production of CIS thin-film solar modules but also in the technology's fundamental advancement, where our company's roots lie as a pioneer of CIS," said Solar Frontier's Senior Vice President, Atsuhiko Hirano. "ARC is one of the most advanced solar R&D labs in the world. Its achievements include pioneering work in the zinc oxide buffer compound that eliminates the need for cadmium. The work done here is the foundation on which our products are able to achieve more kilowatt hours under actual operating conditions, meeting the needs of residential, commercial and utility customers worldwide."
This new record surpasses Solar Frontier's previous world record of 17.2% set in March 2011.
Solar Frontier's CIS modules are manufactured at its Kunitomi plant, which started full commercial operations last year. The technological advances made at ARC are applied to mass production through Solar Frontier's integrated research and production framework, which includes a pilot plant equipped with the machines on which the gigawatt-scale Kunitomi plant's machinery is based.
The Kunitomi plant recently produced a champion module at 14.5% aperture efficiency (13.38% module efficiency), achieving a 164W rating.
About Solar Frontier
Solar Frontier K.K., a 100% subsidiary of Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. (TYO:5002) ("Solar Frontier"), has a mission to create the most economical, ecological solar energy solutions on Earth. Building on a legacy of work in solar energy since the 1970s, Solar Frontier today develops and manufactures CIS (denoting copper, indium, selenium) thin-film solar modules for customers in all sectors around the world. Solar Frontier's gigawatt-scale production facilities in Miyazaki, Japan, integrate compelling economical and ecological advantages into every module: from lower energy requirements in manufacturing to the higher overall output (kWh) of CIS in real operating conditions. Solar Frontier is headquartered in Tokyo, with offices in Europe, the U.S.A., and the Middle East. Visit www.solar-frontier.com for more information.
Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K.
Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and has roots dating back more than 100 years in the downstream energy business.