This report details new areas of solar cell technology that when used in conjunction with each other would overcome the fundamental limitations of conventional solar cell technology for standard p-type commercial grade silicon wafers.
The ARENA 1-082 proposal, formulated in 2009, ambitiously targeted the development of a new solar cell that would overcome the fundamental performance limitations of most commercial solar cells, while simultaneously aiming to set new performance records for commercial grade p-type silicon wafers (the types most commonly used) at both cell and module level. These aims were successfully achieved in conjunction with industry partner Suntech This project has accordingly been credited with the achievement of the world’s first multicrystalline silicon module of over 16% efficiency and then subsequently the first to exceed 17% efficiency, with the latest milestone achieved in early 2015 now successfully reaching 18% efficiency. To emphasize the impact and importance of these achievements, at the time of project commencement, the world record module efficiency was only 15.5% and had been held unchallenged for 15 years by Sandia National Laboratories in the USA.
At cell level, the ARENA 1-082 project targeted the achievement of the long-term industry target, set by international experts, of achieving the world’s first 20% efficient p-type CZ cell fabricated using commercial equipment. This was achieved in late 2011, almost ten years ahead of the timing predicted by the international experts. The above cell and module technologies were successfully transferred to industry and the corresponding manufacturing environment. This was demonstrated by the fact that all the record performance cells and modules were either manufactured or duplicated by the industry partner using their own facilities.
Importantly, the new developments were also achieved while being accompanied by large cost reductions with the new technology being shown to successfully surpass the industry’s long-term cost target of $1/Wp at module level, a cost that would allow photovoltaics to compete with fossil fuel generated electricity at retail level in most locations around the world.