A new world record for cadmium-telluride photovoltaic solar panel cell efficiency may have been set, according to First Solar Inc., a company from Tempe, Arizona.
The company, which says the number is approved by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Lab, said its new cells reached and efficiency level of 17.3% with a test cell using commercial manufacturing equipment and materials. The company said the previous high was 16.7% set in 2001.
"This is a significant milestone that demonstrates the ongoing potential of our advanced thin-film technology," said Dave Eaglesham, chief technology officer at First Solar. He said the achievement reflects the long term potential of cadmium telluride photovoltaic solar cells.
Reuters said cadmium telluride panels, used by First Solar in this record, are cheaper to produce but less efficient than crystalline silicon panels. Those silicone products range from the high teens to low 20s for efficiency percentage.
Gigaom said the silicone panels cost more to make, but also bring in more money. The most efficient silicone panel on the market is by SunPower, which has a 22.4% efficiency rating at its height.