TEMPE, Ariz.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) today announced it set a new world record for cadmium-telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) module conversion efficiency, achieving a record 16.1 percent total area module efficiency in tests confirmed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The new record is a substantial increase over the prior record of 14.4 percent efficiency, which the Company set in January 2012. Separately, First Solar also set a record for CdTe open circuit voltage (VOC), a critical parameter for PV performance, reaching 903.2 millivolts (mV) in NREL-certified testing. This new record marks the first substantial increase in CdTe VOC in over a decade of international R&D. The new records come just six weeks after First Solar announced a new world record for CdTe solar cell efficiency of 18.7 percent.
Transferring its success in the R&D lab to its commercial modules, First Solar also launched a new evolution of its proven Series 3 thin-film PV module platform, the Series 3 BlackTM, which incorporates First Solar’s latest advances in conversion efficiency as well as additional features to enhance its performance in utility-scale power plants. The all-black module’s change in appearance results from the use of an advanced, all-black edge seal technology combined with an innovative encapsulation material that further enhances its field durability and demonstrates improvements in accelerated life testing results.
The Series 3 Black’s performance in a wide range of operating environments is further validated by its new IEC 60068-2-68 “sand and dust test” certification, which measures durability in harsh desert environments characterized by blowing abrasive sand. The certification complements existing IEC salt mist and ammonia certifications to provide a comprehensive range of independent testing that reflects world-class durability and performance in the harshest operating conditions. The Series 3 Black module maintains all the existing IEC certifications and UL listings for the Series 3 family which enable the 1000-volt system designs that typify the Company’s utility-scale power plants. First Solar began to implement the Series 3 Black enhancements in production modules earlier this year.
Based on the Company’s record-setting technology and robust Series 3 Black platform, the Company also has accelerated its module conversion efficiency roadmap, raising its lead production line module efficiency target for 2015 to 15-16.2 percent. First Solar also extended its module conversion efficiency roadmap to 2017, with targets for lead production line module efficiency of 16.2-16.9 percent in 2016 and 16.4-17.1 percent in 2017.
“We are especially proud of this new efficiency record because the technology was created for production-scale implementation, as evidenced by our accelerated efficiency roadmaps,” said Raffi Garabedian, First Solar’s Chief Technology Officer. “Measurements in the lab are an important benchmark, but our R&D mission is to deliver technology that is designed to shine in real-world conditions as part of our integrated power plant systems, engineered to deliver the best performance, reliability and value for our customers. The Series 3 Black is a testament to our integrated approach to product development, combining technological advances from the lab with years of real-world data and experience operating utility-scale power plants in harsh environments.”
Since it began commercial production in 2002, First Solar has produced more than 90 million of its advanced thin-film solar modules with a capacity of over 7 gigawatts (GW), enough to provide clean electricity for more than 3.7 million homes and displace approximately 5 million metric tons of CO2 annually, based on world averages. If laid end-to-end, the modules would circle the equator nearly three times. First Solar utilizes a continuous manufacturing process which transforms a sheet of glass into a complete solar module in less than 2.5 hours, contributing to the industry-leading energy payback time and low carbon footprint of systems using First Solar PV modules.
For more information visit: http://www.firstsolar.com/Innovation/Advanced-Thin-Film-Modules.
About First Solar, Inc.
First Solar is a leading global provider of comprehensive photovoltaic (PV) solar systems which use its advanced module and system technology. The company’s integrated power plant solutions deliver an economically attractive alternative to fossil-fuel electricity generation today. From raw material sourcing through end-of-life module recycling, First Solar’s renewable energy systems protect and enhance the environment. For more information about First Solar, please visit www.firstsolar.com.
For First Solar Investors
This release contains forward-looking statements which are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The forward-looking statements in this release do not constitute guarantees of future performance. Those statements involve a number of factors that could cause actual results to differ materially, including risks associated with the company's business involving the company's products, their development and distribution, economic and competitive factors and the company's key strategic relationships and other risks detailed in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. First Solar assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking information contained in this press release or with respect to the announcements described herein.