New CIGS thin-film efficiency world record of 20.8%

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The Baden-Württemberg Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW) presents a CIGS thin-film solar cell with a record-breaking efficiency rate of 20.8%. The world record is officially confirmed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg.

The Baden-Württemberg Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW) has presented a CIGS thin-film solar cell with a record-breaking efficiency rate of 20.8%. The world record was officially confirmed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg.

The new CIGS thin-film cell exceeds the efficiency of today’s widely used polycrystalline solar cells for the first time. The record-holding cell was manufactured using the co-evaporation method, a technology that was developed further and patented jointly by ZSW and their partner, Manz.

The success is the result of joint research conducted by ZSW and Manz. The stated goal of their partnership is to cut the cost of solar power even more rapidly. With this outstanding result, the two partners have moved a large step closer to this goal.

Dieter Manz, founder and CEO of Manz, commented: “The new world record is an extremely important step, both for our company and the industry as a whole. In this way the only remaining disadvantage of thin-film modules compared to polycrystalline solar cells has been eliminated, the marked share of the cost-efficient CIGS thin-film technology will thus increase significantly. Our company holds the exclusive usage rights to this world record technology, and will now transition it from the laboratory into mass production. With a record module efficiency of 14.6% we have already caught up with polycrystalline technology last year; the research result of the world record cell will help us speeding up the increase of efficiency on production size modules.”

“The signal we are sending to the industry is clear: using a CIGSfab, manufacturers can produce panels far below the current standard costs. Thus grid parity in countless areas of the world can be achieved. A year ago, we announced that our technology has the potential to usher in a new era in the solar industry. And now we have the proof: CIGS thin-film is more efficient than polycrystalline. I am greatly pleased that we played a major role in achieving this,” Manz added.

Manz predicts the CIGS world record will have a major impact on the further development of the PV industry: “The basic conditions are going to change in favor of CIGS thin-film technology. CIGS production costs are considerably more favorable already today and on top of that, the technology has the greatest potential for further efficiency increases. Production lines can be scaled as desired and thanks to the comparatively low initial investment, they are perfect for manufacturing panels locally in the large growth markets of PV with local content requirements. These markets are characterized by an energy demand that is constantly increasing which cannot be covered by fossil fuels. In order to meet this trend head on, as well as develop new industry sectors and create qualified jobs, many countries are taking serious efforts to establish local production capacities. CIGS thin-film technology and the Manz CIGSfab are both perfect for this purpose. Thanks to the high level of integration compared to crystalline production, the production process is much more simple, considerably more affordable and can thus be realized much faster. In addition, the lion’s share of the materials needed can be sourced locally, which additionally strengthens the local economy. CIGS is simply the best solution for companies that want to produce solar panels locally,” he stated.

Manz sees a bright future for CIGS solar cells: “At Manz we have a roadmap for our solar business that plans to offer customers of our CIGSfab panel efficiency increases up to 16% and more within the coming four years. Like this, power generation with CIGS thin-film modules becomes competitive and cost-efficient almost everywhere on the world,” he commented.