Solar, Utility Scale

Q-Cells brings “Smart” CIGS cells to North America

Q-Cells is bringing its highest-efficiency thin-film PV module to North America, a 14.7% (aperture) CIGS module already being used in Europe

June 30, 2011 – Q-Cells is bringing its highest-efficiency thin-film PV module to North America, a 14.7% (aperture) CIGS module already being used in Europe with a 100% guaranteed performance for three years.

The Q.Smart technology, developed in 1983 by Uppsala U. (Sweden)’s Ångström Solar Center, uses a “light-soaking” effect to generate 2.5% average power boost above nominal power at standard test conditions in the field; combined with “positive sorting” output is increased by up to 15%. The modules are guaranteed for 100% performance in the first three years and then ?0.7%/year linear degradation, to still achieve 85% rated output after 25 years. The technology hit the 14.7% aperture efficiency milestone back in March, with 13% module-level efficiency; total production capacity of the Q.Smart modules out of the company’s Thalheim, Germany facilities was 135MWp at the end of 2010.

The CIGS layer is applied to a molybdenum- coated glass substrate (see figure). The thin-film cells are defined and connected in series by fine patterning lines on the glass substrate. In conjunction with a transparent zinc oxide layer, the cells produce a photovoltaic effect when exposed to the sun.

The Q.Smart CIGS module is already been used in installations across Europe: a 3.4MWp commercial rooftop in Tontarelli, Italy, a 610kWp commercial rooftop at the Venice Airport, and a 880kWp carport at the Frankfurt Trade Fair. iGen Energy and Selden Research in the UK have just completed the first phase of a 96kWp install, at 1500m2 one of the largest in the nation.

Since putting its stake down for the North American market a year ago, Q-Cells has introduced a utility-scale solar business, a PV systems business, and now begun module sales, noted Marc van Gerven, managing director of Q-Cells North America, in a statement.