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April 04, 2011

Solar Frontier Sets New Efficiency Record of 17.2% in Thin-Film CIS Technology

Solar Frontier announced today that it has achieved 17.2% aperture area efficiency on a 30x30cm CIS-based photovoltaic submodule, according to in-house measurements. This new world record for thin-film CIS technology was accomplished at Solar Frontier’s dedicated research laboratory in Atsugi, Japan, a cornerstone of the company’s integrated research and production framework, in cooperation with Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).


Thin Film CIS has a faster energy payback

Energy Payback Time (EPT) is the amount of time required in operation to recover the energy spent in producing the modules themselves. Simply put, CIS modules require less energy to produce — 60% less than the current industry standard crystalline silicon. CIS cells are typically 100 times thinner than crystalline cells, requiring less natural resources, and the manufacturing process for a complete module involves significantly fewer steps, with the entire process happening under one roof — from raw materials to finished product.

Gunkul is undertaking a 7.4 megawatt solar power plant project to be constructed in Phetchabun, located in the north of Thailand. The project will be conducted in two phases, with the first phase being a three megawatt installation. Solar Frontier has provided the panels and Schneider Electric will handle the installation.

“This efficiency achievement marks a major milestone on the road toward equaling or surpassing the performance of polycrystalline silicon cells with mass-production CIS modules,” said Satoru Kuriyagawa, Chief Technology Officer at Solar Frontier. “Solar Frontier’s Atsugi Research Centre is one of the most advanced solar R&D labs in the world and the work done here is the foundation on which our products are built. We constantly apply the technological advances made in Atsugi to mass production through our integrated research and production framework, which includes a pilot plant equipped with the machines on which our gigawatt-scale Kunitomi plant’s machinery is based. As we improve conversion efficiency in our labs, these achievements will be applied to our production modules so we can continue to provide our customers with ever higher performance thin-film CIS modules.”

The new record surpasses Solar Frontier’s previous achievement of 16.3% set in September, 2010. Details of the 17.2% achievement will be made available at the 37th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialist Conference, to be held June 19-24, 2011 at the Washington State Convention Center, Seattle, Washington.

Solar Frontier’s next-generation modules are currently manufactured at the Kunitomi plant, which started commercial production in February 2011.
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