Suntech’s Pluto System Reaches 19% Efficiency

Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. announced that its the Pluto technology produces solar photovoltaic (PV) cells with conversion efficiencies of approximately 19% on mono-crystalline PV cells and 17% on multi-crystalline PV cells. Suntech recently sent some of the cells to the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Germany for third party verification.

The Fraunhofer Institute test results included a mono-crystalline Pluto PV cell with a conversion efficiency of 18.8% and a multi-crystalline Pluto PV cell with a conversion efficiency of 17.2%. Both PV cells were produced on Suntech’s 34-megawatt (MW) Pluto production line, which uses solar grade silicon wafers.

“We are very excited about the performance of the Pluto technology. We are consistently achieving around 19% conversion efficiency on Pluto mono-crystalline PV cells and around 17% on Pluto multi-crystalline PV cells in large scale production, compared to 16.5% and 15.5% respectively using conventional screen-printed technology,” said Dr. Stuart Wenham, Suntech’s CTO.

The patent-pending Pluto technology is based on the PERL technology, developed by the University of New South Wales in Australia, which has achieved a world record efficiency of 25% in the laboratory. Pluto could improve power output by approximately 12% above conventional screen-printed PV cells.

The system uses a unique texturing technology, with lower reflectivity, that Suntech claims ensures more sunlight can be absorbed throughout the day, as well as a thinner metal lines on the top surface reduces shading loss. Suntech’s Pluto technology can be applied to a variety of grades of silicon to support a number of different applications and product types.

Suntech said that it anticipates ongoing enhancement of the Pluto technology and has set targets to achieve 20% conversion efficiency on mono-crystalline PV cells and 18% on multi-crystalline PV cells within the next two years. Suntech currently has a fully operational 34 MW Pluto PV cell line and targets to have a total of 100 MW installed Pluto capacity within the next two months. Suntech expects to receive industry certification for Pluto PV modules in the second quarter of 2009 and targets to ship more than 50 MW of Pluto modules in 2009.

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