About a year ago, First Solar crushed the conversion efficiency mark for cadmium telluride with a world-record 21.5 percent, beating the 2014 record of 20.4 percent efficiency. Last year, the company predicted it would exceed 22 percent in 2015.

As promised, First Solar has raised the bar for the cadmium telluride solar cell record to 22.1 percent.

According to the firm, "The achievement places First Solar ahead of its established research cell roadmap, and validates CdTe’s continuing competitive advantage over traditional crystalline silicon technology."

The R&D cell was constructed at the thin-film module builder and vertically integrated EPC's Perrysburg, Ohio manufacturing factory and R&D center, certified at the Newport Technology and Applications Center Lab, and recognized in NREL's most recent "Best Research Cell Efficiencies" reference chart.


First Solar has suggested that it can match the efficiencies of average c-Si modules and believes it can hit ~19.5 percent module efficiency in 2017. The firm also sees credible long-term paths to 23-percent-efficient and 25-percent-efficient CdTe cells.

Raffi Garabedian, First Solar's CTO, notes, "We've improved the efficiency and energy density of our mass-produced commercial PV modules at a rate at least three times faster than our multi-crystalline Si competitors. We fully expect to further separate ourselves from the pack in coming years."

Garabedian also stated that First Solar's lead manufacturing lines were producing PV modules with a 16.4 percent conversion efficiency in Q4 2015. (Yesterday, SunPower announced a new silicon module record at 22.8 percent efficiency.)

MJ Shiao, GTM Research's director of solar research, had this to say: "First Solar's commercial module efficiency gains are probably the most underrated achievement in balance-of-systems cost reductions over the past couple of years."

First Solar announces its quarterly results later today.

Photo of record cell (courtesy of First Solar)