United Solar Achieves World Record 12% Efficient Thin Solar Cell

Auburn Hills-based United Solar, a subsidiary of Rochester Hills-based Energy Conversion Devices Inc. (Nasdaq: ENER), announced Monday that the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has confirmed an initial 12 percent conversion efficiency of a large-area solar cell using Uni-Solar proprietary Nano-Crystalline silicon.

To date, this is the highest large-area cell efficiency confirmed by NREL for thin-film silicon PV technology.

United Solar has worked with NREL for more than two decades in the research and development of advanced thin-film PV technologies.

“I am extremely impressed with United Solar’s recent breakthrough in efficiency in thin-film silicon photovoltaics,” said Ryne Raffaelle, director of the National Center for Photovoltaics at NREL. “United Solar has been the unquestioned leader in their field and one of the few PV companies in the world that can offer a true building integrated photovoltaic product. I am very excited about our continued collaborations.”

The record-setting cell efficiency with an area of 400 square centimeters was encapsulated in Uni-Solar’s proprietary thin-film polymer. Uni-Solar’s triple-junction technology incorporates nano-Ccystalline silicon layers on a flexible stainless steel substrate and increases the cell’s efficiency by about 50 percent relative to current Uni-Solar cells currently in production.

“This is a substantial milestone for our company as we continue to execute on the technology roadmap we communicated in 2010,” said  Subhendu Guha, chairman of United Solar and executive vice president of photovoltaic technology at Energy Conversion Devices. “This world record efficiency was achieved under the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar America Initiative Program led by United Solar with participation from NREL and associated universities.”

United Solar’s technology roadmap takes this ground-breaking technology into commercial production in 2012. The technological advancement drives meaningful reductions in the cost of installing a Uni-solar solar energy system and will reduce the cost of generating solar electricity by more than 20 percent. Ultimately, the company expects to offer solar energy systems that are capable of providing electricity at a cost below the utility grid.

ECD is a global leader in building-integrated and rooftop photovoltaics. The company manufactures, sells and installs thin-film solar laminates that convert sunlight to clean, renewable energy using proprietary technology. ECD’s Uni-Solar products are unique because of their flexibility, light weight, ease of installation, durability, and real-world efficiency. The company also designs, manufactures and installs rooftop photovoltaic systems, which enable customers to transform unused space on the rooftop into a value-generating asset.

For more information, please visit www.energyconversiondevices.com.

  • Fanof Ecd

    CBS is quite mistaken. United Solar achieved “World Record” 12% efficiency in year 1985, that is, 26 years ago. Looks like CBS is the latest victim of United Solar’s misinformation campaign. Too bad the modules on the picture are just 6.7% efficient.

    COPYRIGHT 1985 PR Newswire Association, Inc.
    PR Newswire
    September 4, 1985, Wednesday
    LENGTH: 342 words
    DATELINE: ROME, Sept. 4

    ROME, Sept. 4 /PRN/ — An unprecedented energy conversion
    efficiency of 12.2 percent in solar cells made of proprietary
    amorphous material alloys has been achieved by scientists in Troy,
    Mich., Stanford R. Ovshinsky, president of Energy Conversion Devices,
    Inc. (OTC: ENER), announced in Rome today.
    Ovshinsky said that ECD, in a joint venture with The Standard Oil
    Co. (Ohio) (“Sohio”), is already manufacturing one-foot-wide, up to
    1,000-foot-long continuous-strip solar cells with efficiencies in the
    8-percent range.
    The new high efficiency was achieved in a one-square-centimeter
    solar cell consisting of three extremely thin, vertically stacked
    sub-cells made of proprietary fluorinated amorphous materials, each
    sub-cell sensitive to a different color in the solar spectrum
    rainbow. The cells were produced by Sovonics Solar Systems, a
    partnership of ECD and Sohio, and reported to the 11th International
    Conference on Amorphous and Liquid Semiconductors in Rome.
    The 8-percent efficiency in the commercial-size cells now being
    manufactured is achieved with two-layered or tandem cells. Looking
    to the future, Ovshinsky said, “From the start of our work in
    photovoltaics, we have consistently been able to duplicate laboratory
    results in our large-area operations. This is an important step
    towards achieving higher efficiency commercial solar cells.
    “Another major advantage of multi-layer cells is excellent
    stability. The triple-cell design has proven in our laboratories to
    retain over 90 percent of its efficiency over a 20-year period. Other
    high-efficiency amorphous solar cells lose as much as half of their
    efficiency after only 24 hours of illumination.”
    Subhendu Guha, Ph.D., delivered an invited paper at the
    conference in Rome, describing the amorphous materials that enable
    Sovonics to achieve these high-efficiency, stable cells. The
    laboratory work was done by a team headed by Jeffrey Yang, Ph.D

  • Ian Williams

    Fanof Ecd,

    You are overlooking one very important point, the total exposed area of the cell. In this 1985 article it says, “The new high efficiency was achieved in a one-square-centimeter solar cell…” One square centimeter is tiny. Also, this was probably an un-encapsulated cell, meaning the active area had no obstructions to the incident light. This year they achieved over 12% efficiency using a 400 square centimeter (20cm by 20cm, 7.87″ by 7.87″) encapsulated cell (real world conditions).

    Also, are you the same “ECD Fan” that shows up elsewhere in the PV Tech world?

    • Dan Arguelles

      Ian Williams,

      Yes he’s the same ECD FAN and when you dont get an answer that means you are right!

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