Solar

German researchers ring 20% CIGS bell

Researchers from Germany’s Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW) are claiming a new record for thin-film solar cell efficiency, and say the mark is achievable beyond the demonstrated material (CIGS) to thin-film technology in general.

May 4, 2010 – Researchers from Germany’s Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW) are claiming a new record for thin-film solar cell efficiency, and say the mark is achievable beyond the demonstrated material (CIGS) to thin-film technology in general.

The mark of 20.1%, said to be confirmed by the Fraunhofer ISE in Freiberg, Germany, surpasses the previous mark by NREL, which held the record for 16 years, ZSW claims in a statement.

The 0.5cm2 area, 4μm-thick CIGS cell was produced in a lab using a modified co-evaporation process, which “in principle can be scaled up to a commercial production process,” the researchers note. (The ZSW is collaborating with Würth Solar, whose first commercial CIGS line came online in 2006 and is now 30MW capacity.)

Commercially available CIGS modules sport around 10%-12% efficiency, but the new CIGS technology could usher up to 15% efficiency at commercial module levels “within the next few years,” according to Michael Powalla, head of ZSW’s photovoltaics division.