Further developments in Sencera’s cell efficiency have been ongoing since December, as the company announced it has reached an 8.7% efficiency level on its single-junction thin-film silicon solar cells. At the end of 2008, Sencera reached a conversion efficiency of 7%, both of which milestones were achieved using its Viper manufacturing platform.
As was the case with the cell efficiency increase in December 2008, the news has secured the final $5.2 million instalment of a $15.6 million investment from California-based investor The Quercus Trust. Sencera has, as a result of the successful securing of the funding, managed to fully fund its first manufacturing line without incurring debt.
The initial 8.7% sunlight-to-electricity conversion efficiency was reached under standard test conditions, and independently confirmed by The University of Delaware’s Institute of Energy Conversion, which was designated a University Center of Excellence for Photovoltaic Research and Education by the Department of Energy in 1992.
The extra 1.7% efficiency hike was brought about by the company’s recent process and hardware enhancements to Viper, its fully automated PECVD manufacturing platform. The enhancements have improved cell absorption of both blue and red light sections of the solar spectrum, which leads to more light being converted to electricity.
Such an achievement will lend to the company’s plans to produce a 7% efficient, 106W single-junction amorphous silicon module at its 35MW solar module facility, which is currently under construction in Charlotte, North Carolina. Sencera’s goal of increasing capacity to 50MW without the need for additional equipment may be realised if it can successfully develop a second-generation tandem junction module with a stabilized efficiency of more than 11%, which project it plans to undertake in the near future.
“This efficiency milestone validates our manufacturing platform, and our cost model. We intend to expand our present 1MW research capacity to 35MW annual capacity over the next two quarters,” said Dr. Rusty Jewett, Sencera’s CEO.