National Renewable Energy Laboratory Reach 19.9% Efficiency for Thin-Film Photovoltaics

Compound Semiconductors Online: On March 26, 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced the achievement of 19.9% efficiency with a copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film solar cell. The record efficiency for a multicrystaline silicon solar cell is 20.3%. Thin-film solar cells require less energy to manufacture and can be placed on glass, metal foils, high temperature polymers (such as plastics), or stainless steel sheets.

This certainly is an important step for thin-film solar and helps in challenging the notion that thin-film PVs have less efficiency than polysilicon-based PVs, but there is a very long and challenging road ahead for thin-film PVs with close to 20% efficiencies to be volume manufactured and applied to real-world applications. Let’s hope the wait is not too long.

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