SunPower, Heliovolt tout record efficiencies

May 12, 2008 – Two firms developing technologies with application in the solar industry are claiming new records in efficiency — one with its thin-film materials, the other with solar cells.

SunPower says it has produced a full-scale 5-in. prototype solar cell with 23.4% efficiency, a “step-function increase” from its 22%-efficient “Gen 2” technology that’s been in mass production since last year, according to CEO Tom Werner, in a statement. The new product, expected to be available in about two years, is part of the company’s plan to reduce system cost by 50% by 2012.

Meanwhile, HelioVolt says it has produced thin-film solar cells in its lab with 12.2% conversion efficiencies in six minutes, a level it says puts its CIGS (copper-indium-gallium-selenide) devices among the better-performing thin-film products available on the market. The results were presented at this week’s IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists conference.

The company says it is currently optimizing its proprietary FASST reactive transfer printing process to further increase efficiencies, and scale up the process to start commercial manufacturing of thin-film solar modules and building-integrated solar products.

In a statement, HelioVolt noted that its FASST process reduced CIGS thin-film manufacturing costs by 10x-100x vs. competitive processes including co-evaporation and two-stage selenization, results it says are verified by independent tests at Colorado State U.


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