The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

First Solar Retakes CdTe Crown, Promises April Roadmap Update

Roughly one month ago GE leapfrogged First Solar in thin-film cadmium-telluride (CdTe) solar photovoltaic (PV) conversion efficiency, with an 18.3 percent efficient champion cell -- a full percentage point higher than First Solar's 17.3 percent mark set last year.

That reign proved to be short-lived, as First Solar has produced an NREL-verified 18.7 percent cell out of its Perrysburg, Ohio factory and R&D center.

Keith Emery, who manages NREL's cell and module performance characterization group (and the cell efficiency records chart), confirms that the new First Solar cell arrived and was tested in mid-December.

In a statement coinciding with First Solar's 4Q12/FY 2012 financial results, company CTO Raffi Garabedian echoed what we heard from both GE and NREL last month: that there's still a lot of runway for thin-film solar PV technology, and particularly CdTe, to improve efficiency and its competitiveness with dominant crystalline silicon-based PV. "This achievement showcases the huge potential of CdTe compared to other PV technologies," he stated.

When GE announced its top CdTe mark, Anil Duggal, GE Research's solar technology platform leader, mused that CdTe cells ultimately could match the ~20 percent efficiency of today's multicrystalline silicon cells, and that GE's internal goal is 15 percent efficient CdTe modules.

First Solar emphasizes its cell was made using processes and materials "designed for commercial-scale manufacturing," including a glass substrate. The company, which also holds the NREL record for CdTe module efficiency (14.4 percent in January 2012), currently puts out modules with average conversion efficiency of 12.9 percent, and 13.1 percent in its best-producing line. During the company's 4Q12/FY12 results call this week, CFO Mark Widmar predicted that best-line module conversion efficiency would ratchet up by another full percentage point, and that adjusted efficiency and cost roadmaps would be released at its Analyst Day in April. (Somewhat controversially, First Solar also is postponing its 2013 guidance until that Analyst Day.)

Asked at the end of the call what's been behind First Solar's nearly one-and-a-half-point leap in module efficiency over the past year, CEO James Hughes again deferred to the upcoming Analyst Day for additional clarity. Here one might note that First Solar recently teamed up with Intermolecular to help accelerate its R&D learning curve, emphasizing materials innovation and process knob-tweaking. Intermolecular wouldn't comment on its ongoing work with this customer.

Lead image: Chess king standing, via Shutterstock

Untitled Document

Get All the Renewable Energy World News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to Renewable Energy World or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now


Electricity Deregulation

Japan Electricity Deregulation: Birth of Municipally Owned Electric Utilities

Junko Movellan, Correspondent The upcoming retail electricity deregulation in Japan will create a way for Japanese municipal governments to produce...
Solar panel

REC Joins O Capital in Egypt to Tap Solar Panel Market in Middle East, Africa

Anna Hirtenstein, Bloomberg REC Solar ASA has signed a deal with O Capital, the renewable energy arm of Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Hold...
Solar PV

OneEnergy Seeks Authority to Build 6 MW Solar PV Facility in Southern Maryland

Jennifer Delony OneEnergy Renewables is seeking regulatory approval in Maryland to build a 6 MW solar PV facility in Somerset County,...
Solar water heating

California Regulators Propose Expansion of Eligibility Requirements for Solar Water Heating Program

Jennifer Delony The California Public Utilities Commission has proposed expanding the eligibility requirements for customers seeking ...


Fronius Shifting the Limits in Solar-Plus: It’s not just about products, it’s about solutions.

Fronius USA, who just recently launched the all-new Fronius SnapINverter line this past...

IREC Announces Changes in Regulatory Team

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), a not-for-profit organization which for...

IREC Awarded New Funding to Advance Digital Credentials

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) proudly announces funding for an innovat...

$100 Discount on 5-day Advanced PV Project Experience Workhop

Upcoming 5-day Workshops: Nov. 7 - 11 Feb. 6 - 10


NY Gov. Cuomo Pledges to Create Carbon Market use Solar, Wind to reduce Climate Change

This week former Vice President Al Gore joined with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to sign the Under 2 MOU, a directi...
clean energy

In Clean Energy, The Truth Matters

A group of about 20 protesters gathered outside the Sheraton in Burlington, Vt., early on Oct. 8 as attendees arrived...

Industry Focus: Cleantech: 1366 Technologies joins Solarcity in New York

1366 is set to build a factory just up the road (OK, it is a long road – NYS Thruway) from Solarcity.  The...


Jim is Contributing Editor for, covering the solar and wind beats. He previously was associate editor for Solid State Technology and Photovoltaics World, and has covered semiconductor manufacturing and related industries, ...


Volume 18, Issue 4


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon



Successfully Integrating Solar: A Proactive Approach

•      What does the increasing solar penetrati...

Solar Frontier Offsite Office at Solar Power International (2 mins....

Solar Frontier will be hosting an offsite meeting room offering our gues...

PV-Diesel Hybrid Systems to Reduce Diesel Demand

Substantial fuel cost saving potential has made PV technology the centre...


Sell Through Hypothesis

You first learned to hypothesize, or make educated guesses, in grade sch...

Vacancy? No Problem!

Have you ever tried to sell an efficiency product or service to a prospe...

Going The Extra Mile

Selling efficiency takes perseverance, creativity, and a willingness to ...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now