EU PVSEC: Suntech sets new 16.53% conversion efficiency record for multi-crystalline solar modules

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Barely a month ago, Suntech surpassed the previous conversion world record for multi-crystalline solar modules set 15 years ago by Sandia National Labs of 15.5%. Granted this was only by 0.1% but that’s how records are often broken, especially in the challenging area of solar cell and module efficiencies. Verified by the Fraunhofer ISE and being presented in a paper by Suntech’s founder Dr Zhengrong Shi today at the European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference at the CCH Congress Centre, Hamburg, Germany, will announce a new world record conversion efficiency (aperture area only) of 16.53%. Also impressive is the claimed cell conversion efficiency of well over 17%.

“The 16.53% conversion efficiency Suntech module has a clear margin over other multi-crystalline silicon photovoltaic technologies,” noted Dr. Martin Green, Research Director of the ARC Photovoltaics Centre of Excellence at the University of New South Wales, Australia. “It has set the new benchmark for the highest performance multi-crystalline module.”

“We are very pleased to announce that our Pluto technology has been recognized as the most efficient multi-crystalline silicon technology in the world,” commented Dr. Stuart Wenham, Suntech’s Chief Technology Officer. “This shows that it is possible to combine both first class R&D and low cost manufacturing into a commercially viable business model that will bring clean alternative energy to the world’s growing energy demands.”

Suntech had said in August, 2009 when it had originally announced breaking the long-standing Sandia National Labs record that its ‘Pluto’ cell technology currently being migrated across all cell production lines had been achieved on commercial scale production lines.  Suntech had also said that it expected shipments of Pluto powered modules to reach between 10MW to 15MW in 2009.

However, in a statement issued by Suntech concerning the new world record no mention was made of production equipment being used to set the new module record. Nor was it stated when modules with this efficiency level would enter production.

That said the leap in conversion efficiencies from 15.6% to 16.53% is a major achievement and is another confirmation that the race to higher efficiencies by the major PV manufacturers is continuing to gather significant pace.

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