Thin Film Solar Approaches DOE’s Goals

Thin film solar continues to increase its efficiencies in converting sunlight to power, and MiaSole, the leading manufacturer of copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) thin-film photovoltaic solar panels, recently announced a jump from 14.3% efficiency–the company’s efficiency breakthrough just this September–to 15.7%.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory solar researcher Dr. Rommel Noufi highlighted the significance of this achievement, calling it “a very exciting result,” as the announcement comes so soon after MiaSole’s last efficiency announcement in September. “An almost 1.5% absolute increase in efficiency in such a short time on a continuous roll-to-roll manufacturing line is impressive,” he said, in a statement.

MiaSole Thin Film Solar manufacturing process

image via MiaSole

He goes on to note that MiaSole’s achievement significantly narrows the efficiency gap between actual manufacturing performance and solar cells produced in the laboratory (which currently demonstrate an efficiency of 20.3%), putting CIGS thing film technology on track to achieve the U.S. Department of Energy’s target of $1 per Wp (peak Watts) for photovoltaic systems.

MiaSolé’s manufacturing process deposits CIGS on a flexible stainless steel substrate and produces all of the layers required for its solar cell in a single continuous process, making use of a ”sputtering process” in every step of the coating, which, according to the company, reduces manufacturing time and the overall cost of production.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.