37th EU PVSEC, 07 - 11 September 2020

12 February 2018

Impressive Solar Cell Efficiency Improvements across the Board

The strong growth of the global solar market in 2017 to nearly 100 GW from 77 GW the year before had caught any expert in the sector by surprise. The recent efficiency increases were not all that surprising but the constant and manifold improvements have been very impressive across the board. The latest solar cell efficiency table (version 51 in Dec. 2017) of the semi-annually published Progress in Photovoltaics alone listed 10 new efficiency records for various cell and module technologies from companies and research institutes in Europe, Asia and America:


 Crystalline Silicon:
1. A 22.3% efficiency record was reached for a 4-cm2 n-type multicrystalline solar cell fabricated by Fraunhofer ISE from Germany.
2. An efficiency of 25.8% was confirmed for a 4-cm2 n-type crystalline silicon cell with contacts on both top and rear surfaces. This was a record for this cell with a traditional contacting design made by Fraunhofer ISE.
3. An efficiency of 22.0% was reached for a large area 246-cm2 p-type multicrystalline cell based on Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC) technology and produced by Chinese company Jinko Solar.

4. An initial efficiency of 20.9% was measured for a 1-cm2 perovskite cell produced by the Korean Research Institute of Chemical Technology.
5. An efficiency of 22.7% has been measured for a small area 0.09-cm2 lead halide perovskite cell also made by Korean Research Institute of Chemical Technology.

6. Fraunhofer ISE reached a 33.3% efficiency for a 2-terminal, triple-junction GaInP/GaInAs cell wafer-bonded to a Si cell.
7. A 32.8% efficiency was measured for a 1-cm2 GaInP/GaAs monolithic 2-junction, 2-terminal device from Korean company LG Electronics.
8. An efficiency of 25.1% was reported for a 866-cm2 GaAs module of US company Alta Devices.
9. A 32.6% efficiency for a small area (0.25 cm2) GaInAsP/GaInAs monolithic, 2-junction, 2-terminal, 1-sun cell fabricated by US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
10. NREL improved a small area, 2-junction, 2-terminal tandem GaInAsP/GaInAs concentrator cell to 35.5% under 38-suns concentration (direct irradiance of 38 kW/m2).

Strong uptick in efficiency
When looking at efficiency improvements over the last 25 years published in Progress in Photovoltaics (and that only includes those records confirmed by accredited labs), you can see considerable developments for 1-sun cells (graph A) and modules (graph B) as well as concentrator technology (graph C) – in particular in recent years. While for 1-sun cells of ≥1-cm2, perovskites and CdTe have made the most notable progress in the last few years, there were also good advancements for CIGS, mono- and multi-crystalline silicon. Similar developments have taken place for solar modules, while in the field of concentrator technology monolithic III-V multi-junction cells improved most in the last few years.

 graph pip

© Progress in Photovoltaics / www.wiley.com

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