Keithley Instruments has conducted survey of solar cell and PV device researchers and manufacturers working in government, university-based, and corporate labs and manufacturing facilities. The survey aimed to identify distinct differences in testing methods and priorities among respondents from Asia, North America, and Europe. The study was conducted during Summer 2009 using a by-invitation-only online survey generating 564 responses.
The most prominent indication from the survey was that, globally, the PV industry is focused on improving device efficiencies as the dominant development priority. ‘Reducing manufacturing cost’ was the second most important among the respondents, although substantially less important than the need to boost device and panel performance.
In terms of R&D, a large majority of respondents identified their ‘key parameters’ for measurement as short-circuit current (ISC), open-circuit voltage (VOC), maximum output power (PMAX) and conversion efficiency.
The priority of test parameters characterized as PV moves into production returned fairly balanced results, however there was disagreement about the most important tests in comparison to the results from the research lab. Asian respondents were far more definitive about the most valuable solar cell tests for production than for research applications.
Engineers seemed to be relatively comfortable with the solar cell industry’s complicated sequence of tests.
The survey respondents also reported engagement in a broad range of PV device technologies, including monocrystalline, multicrystalline, amorphous silicon, CIGS, CdTe, and GaAs. In general, respondents seemed more active in thin-film materials than in silicon, Keithley Instruments suggests that this could be to do with the timing of the survey.
Full survey results can be viewed on Keithley Instruments’ website.