Q-Cells have used new cell technology to break the world record in the field of polycrystalline solar modules. The ESTI (European Solar Test Installation) confirmed independently that the module has a record efficiency rating of 17.84% in relation to the aperture area. The module’s output is 268 watts, according to the company. The development of the technology was supported with funds from, among others, the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt and the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU).
Increasing the conversion efficiency of solar cells reduces the cost per watt. New techniques are required that are both performance boosting and manufacturable at cost competitive levels, while maintaining high quality for long-life operation.
The base material for the high-efficiency solar cells used in the module is conventional, 180-µm-thick polycrystalline silicon wafers, which were metallized on the back side and passivated in Q-Cells' in-house research centre with functional nanolayers. This new type of structure for the back side, consisting of dielectric layers combined with local contacts, improves the solar cell’s aesthetic and electrical characteristics and significantly boosts its output as compared to the BSF (back surface field) technology used until now. The independent calibration laboratory run by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems confirmed that these high-efficiency cells have a peak efficiency rating of 18.45%. This innovative structure of the rear side is suitable for a range of silicon qualities and for very thin wafers. This creates potential for further cost savings in industrial production.
Modules for residential, industrial and utility-scale installations.
The Q-Cells module contains 60 high-efficiency polycrystalline cells with dimensions of 156 x 156 mm², produced in-house and arranged in a conventional layout. Due to up-to-the-minute technological processes, the module tested achieved a first in terms of efficiency rating – 17.84% on an area of 1.492 square metres (aperture area). Technical data for record-breaking module made of polycrystalline silicon solar cells: efficiency rating: 17.84 per cent (in relation to aperture area). Module area: 1.492 m² (aperture area). Open circuit voltage: 38.86v. Short circuit current: 9.04 A. Module output: 268W. The independent photovoltaic calibration laboratory run by the ESTI (European Solar Test Installation) confirmed the record-breaking efficiency rating to the solar company Q-Cells.
Pilot production is currently (March 2011) underway. The implementation of this technological improvement at Q-Cells facility in Germany will be followed by the transfer of the technology to its volume production facility in Malaysia.