At this year’s EU PVSEC, Sulfurcell Solartechnik GmbH will be unveilingthe prototypes for its new product line: 1.25 m x 0.65 m modules with aconsiderably increased efficiency of 10.7 percent and a peak output of86.8 watts.
TÜV Rheinland, the German technical inspectionagency, has confirmed the results. In developing the powerful modules,Sulfurcell is relying on a reconfigured semiconductor layer: for thefirst time the company is producing thin-film modules based on CIGSesemiconductors.
The ‘CIGSe’ abbreviation stands for the elements copper, indium, gallium and selenide. In contrast to the firstproduction line, Sulfurcell is using selenide instead of sulphur in itsnew high-performance modules. The company will be converting part of its production to CIGSe in 2011 and will then market the premium product on a megawatt scale.
After an intensive development phase lastingjust four months, Sulfurcell succeeded in July this year in producingthe first prototypes of large-format CIGSe solar modules withefficiencies greater than 10 percent.
This represents amilestone for the highly specialist experts in Sulfurcell’s researchdepartment, since only very few manufacturers of thin-film solar modules are currently capable of producing high quality modules withefficiencies in double figures.
Dr. Nikolaus Meyer, CEO andfounder of Sulfurcell, said: “The development success confirms ourstrategy of continually furthering Sulfurcell’s proven technology. Itwas possible because we were able to build on the experience gained from five years of producing and marketing CIS modules. The high moduleefficiency demonstrates that we will also be able to compete in the very top league of thin-film specialists in future.”
CIGSe technology holds huge potential
Scientists have already been able to produce CIGSe solar cells with efficienciesgreater than 20% under laboratory conditions. In order to exploit thispotential, Sulfurcell’s CIGSe process deploys co-evaporation techniques. The manner in which these are utilised to manufacture therecord-breaking cells depends, however, on proprietary design andcomponents.
A major advantage of this process is that the CIGSelayer properties can be precisely configured, which enables thematerial’s potential to be exploited to the full. The company’s mediumterm technology roadmap is clearly defined: Sulfurcell is already aiming to surpass the 11 percent threshold in 2011 and the 12 percentthreshold in 2012. Module efficiencies exceeding 14 percent arerealistic by 2015.
Success through strong partners
“This resounding research success is due not only to our highly specialistproduction processes and the longstanding expertise of our developmentengineers but also to our excellent cooperation partners,” explains Dr.Nikolaus Meyer.
Sulfurcell continually exchanges expertise withthe Helmholtz Centre Berlin, from which the company was established as a spin off in 2001. For developing and optimising innovative productionprocesses for CIGSe-based thin-film modules, Sulfurcell also worksexclusively with 44solar from Nantes in France.
The head of thecompany is the renowned CIGSe specialist Professor John Kessler. Withhim and his colleagues Sulfurcell is already planning the constructionof new, highly productive machines in order to further develop the CIGSe technology and achieve maximum efficiencies.
Sulfurcell will be unveiling its new prototypes to the trade public from 6 to 10 September 2010 at the EU PVSEC (Booth 3/H3/D22).