Germany Develops Highest Efficiency Thin-Film Solar Cells
No one doubts that solar cells are a terrific alternative energy product. However, solar cell inefficiency has been a major hurdle for the solar cell industry and has spurred extensive research. The current record of 19.9 percent efficiency for thin film solar has just been passed by researchers at Germany’s Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research. They claim their new CIGS thin-film solar cell technology achieves 20.1 percent efficiency.
The achievement is more significant than it seems. An American company, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), held the previous record of 19.9 percent efficiency for 16 years. Commercially available CIGS thin film cells can claim only 10 percent to 12 percent efficiency. An increase of close to 10 percent is relatively enormous, especially if paired with an improved manufacturing process that avoids the use of toxic chemicals and expensive production equipment.
At the moment, fossil fuel energy is relatively cheap to purchase and use. The fossil fuel process and delivery infrastructure is in place and tested. With greatly improved solar cell efficiency tied with a more cost effective production process, however, solar energy takes an important step in knocking over the fossil fuel energy behemoth.
image credit: NREL