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Efficiency of industrial modules

The efficiency of standard modules has considerably increased in the last few years and this development is set to continue.

Crystalline Si modules

For the overview, the module efficiency data (total area efficiency) of the certified photovoltaic modules available on the German market were evaluated using data from the ‘Photon’ trade journal. Based on this, the arithmetic mean for all modules in a material class has been determined for the years 2003–2010. The trend is significant: from 2003 to 2010, the mean efficiency value for all c-Si modules has increased from just under 12% to 13.5%. The maximum efficiency has improved from 15.2% (Sanyo, HIT heterojunction technology) in 2003 to currently 19.3% (Sunpower, backjunction technology), with a cell efficiency of 22.4%. The cell results from June 2010 with cell efficiencies of up to 24.2% in the pilot production suggest that module efficiencies of more than 20% are likely in the near future. Based on selective emitter technology, the Chinese company Suntech is also now offering a high-efficiency module with 16%. The German c-Si module with the highest efficiency of 15% is produced by Solarwatt in Dresden.

Thin-film modules

In the same period, the maximum thin-film module efficiency increased from 8.2% (Würth Solar, Germany, CIS technology) to 12.2% (Solibro, Germany, CIS technology). The thin-film market leader with a global market share of 9% is the US company First Solar; it has achieved the currently highest module efficiency with CdTe technology of 11.1% (2003: Antec Solar, Germany, 6.9%). With silicon-based thin-film modules, the Japanese company Sharp is currently leading the way with 9.8% (2003: Kaneka, Japan, 6.9%). Since very many modules based on amorphous silicon have lower efficiencies, the mathematical mean value for the thin-film module efficiency has only risen from 5.5% in 2003 to 6.7% in 2010. Nevertheless, the trend to higher efficiencies in the industrial production continues uninterrupted with all technologies and will continue further.

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