Germany-headquartered PV manufacturer SolarWorld has had a record efficiency for a PERC solar cell of 21.7% independently verified by the photovoltaic calibration laboratory (CalLab) of Fraunhofer ISE.

In announcing the news this morning, SolarWorld played up the fact that it was the first company to rely on PERC (passivated emitter rear cell) technology in its production, upgrading around 800MW of its production lines to the new format in a ramp up which began in March.

PERC architecture includes a passivation layer to the back of the cell which reflects light which would otherwise be lost, effectively increasing the amount of light that can be captured and converted into electricity, typically resulting in conversion efficiencies in excess of 20%. This layer is usually formed via a PECVD or ALD process.

Recently, Chinese manufacturer Wuxi Suntech’s president Victor Xiong told PV Tech that his company is looking to ramp up production of its monocrystalline PERC solar cells with 20.5% efficiency to 1.2GW. Similarly, SolarWorld said its latest crystalline p-type silicon wafer PERC cells can be rolled out into mass production and will be available in modules including 300W configurations later this year.

SolarWorld, despite launching a glass-glass bifacial module and storage devices this year, has perhaps become better known in the PV industry as the company which initiated trade proceedings against Chinese manufacturers for importing solar materials into the US and EU at prices below domestic competitors. The latest twist to that saga has been a growing sense that Chinese PV producers will increasingly establish overseas production facilities to circumvent duties.

This article has been amended from its original form to clarify a technical point.