In a solar industry hungry for good news, JA Solar Holdings (Nasdaq:JASO) announced it had achieved a small milestone in efficiency levels and saw its stock jump by almost 14 percent  to $1.40 on Tuesday after hitting 52-week lows on the previous day.

The vertically integrated Chinese solar firm with a focus on cells announced that its high efficiency Maple solar cell hit conversion efficiencies of 18.5 percent in full-scale production, with a production average of 18 percent efficiency. Typical conversion efficiency for multi-crystalline solar cells is approximately 16.8 percent, according to the firm, making JA Solar's multi-crystalline cells achieve monocrystalline efficiency levels. The JA process produces silicon crystals that are "broader, flatter and have fewer grain boundaries than traditional multicrystalline silicon," according to the firm.   
JA Solar shipped 445 megawatts in the third quarter, with revenue down 31.6 percent year-over-year at $388 million and down 7.3 percent sequentially. Fourth-quarter guidance was given in the range of 310 megawatts to 330 megawatts, with an annual total of 1.6 gigawatts of cells and modules, down from an earlier guidance of 1.8 gigawatts.

Yingli, Trina, and Suntech
shares also saw some gains on Tuesday.

Chinese solar panel and cell vendors continue to innovate and improve their solar cells. Suntech is developing a hybrid processing technology, a silicon casting and wafering process that produces higher-quality multicrystalline wafers with strong resistance to light-induced degradation, as well as its silver-paste-free Pluto technology. Trina has its square quad-max technology, and Yingli has worked on its PANDA N-type monocrystalline. All of these technology development efforts have sought to improve conversion efficiency while scrubbing out cost per watt.