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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.

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