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Solar ♦ news digest


some evidence of improvement and believe we have the right strategy in place to retain our industry leadership by providing the best value for our customers.”


First Solar CdTe 18.7%


efficient cell breaks record In the future, the firm’s cadmium telluride module will be optimised for volume manufacturing


First Solar says it has set a new world record for CdTe photovoltaic (PV) solar cell conversion efficiency, achieving 18.7 percent cell efficiency.


The tests were conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).


The record-setting cell was constructed at the company’s Perrysburg, Ohio factory and R&D centre using processes and materials - including the glass substrate - that are designed for commercial-scale manufacturing.


Emcore solar panels power


LDCM satellite The orbital-built satellite will use the firm’s BTJ triple-junction III-V solar cells delivering 3,750W of power at the end of life


Emcore solar panels are powering the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) satellite that was successfully launched on February 11th, 2013 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.


LDCM was designed, built and tested by Orbital Sciences Corporation for NASA to support the Landsat Earth observation program that began over four decades ago. The LDCM satellite continues a 40-year legacy of seven previous satellites that have collected vital data and images of the Earth’s surface and environment.


NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) share responsibility for the LDCM program. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre oversaw development of the flight systems including the LDCM spacecraft and the onboard instruments, and is responsible for mission operations, launch, and in-orbit checkout.


First Solar’s R&D team in Perrysburg, Ohio, set a new world record for CdTe solar cell efficiency, 18.7 percent, as certified by the NREL


“This achievement showcases the huge potential of CdTe compared to other PV technologies and highlights the performance gains we continue to achieve thanks to our consistent and strong investment in R&D,” says Raffi Garabedian, First Solar’s Chief Technology Officer.


“We are confident the advanced technologies and processes we developed for this record-setting cell will further enhance the performance of our future production modules and power plants.”


First Solar has continued to transfer its success in the R&D lab into its commercial modules, increasing its average production module efficiency to 12.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, up 0.7 percentage points from 12.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011. The company’s lead line was producing modules with 13.1 percent efficiency during the fourth quarter, up from 12.6 percent in the same period a year ago.


Since it began commercial production in 2002, First Solar has produced more than 90 million of its advanced thin-film solar modules with a capacity of over 7 gigawatts (GW), enough to provide clean electricity for approximately 3.5 million homes and displace 4.7 million metric tons of CO2 annually, based on world averages.


The USGS will operate the satellite and the Landsat ground network, image-processing and archive facilities. The data collected constitutes the longest ongoing record of the Earth’s surface as seen from space and benefits many industries including agriculture, geology, forestry, regional planning, education, mapping, emergency response and disaster relief.


The knowledge gained contributes to research on climate, carbon cycle, water cycle, ecosystems, biogeochemistry and changes to Earth’s surface, as well as our understanding of visible human effects on land surfaces.


LDCM joins Landsat 7, which is currently in orbit. Once the spacecraft completes in-orbit testing and is operated by the USGS, it will be renamed Landsat 8, reflecting its place in a distinguished legacy of highly-productive spacecraft.


The satellite has two new spectral bands that will allow it to detect clouds on coastal zones. In addition, it will produce more than twice as many images per day than the Landsat 7. LDCM is approximately 20 feet tall with a 9-foot diameter at its widest point.


The solar array has four Emcore solar panels that will extend 32 feet from the satellite when deployed and feature high- efficiency BTJ triple-junction solar cells delivering 3,750 watts of power at End-Of-Life (EOL).


“Emcore is proud to have once again partnered with Orbital March 2013 www.compoundsemiconductor.net 103


If laid end-to-end, the modules would circle the equator nearly three times.


First Solar utilises a continuous manufacturing process which transforms a sheet of glass into a complete solar module in less than 2.5 hours, contributing to the excellent energy payback time and low carbon footprint of systems using First Solar PV.


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