Cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin-film solar panel manufacturer First Solar has been developing a new solar module technology that uses less copper, which results in low module degradation rates. The Series 6 CuRe (named for “copper reduction”) module has a company warranted degradation rate of 0.2% per year. This ensures the module will retain at least 92% of its original performance at the end of its 30-year warranty.
The CuRe program was developed by First Solar scientists at its Silicon Valley and Perrysburg, Ohio, R&D centers. It is a proprietary semiconductor platform that replaces copper with atoms of Group V elements that enhance performance, delivering long-term stability. Those elements include: vanadium (V), niobium (Nb), tantalum (Ta) and dubnium (Db).
“We invested in our understanding of copper’s dynamics in order to turn what had been a cause of degradation into an opportunity to virtually eliminate it,” explained Markus Gloeckler, chief technology officer at First Solar. “Armed with this knowledge, we researched a range of alternatives and found that Group V elements could effectively replace copper, acting as a stable dopant and furthering our goal of zero degradation. CuRe is the deployment-ready result of that research, and the world’s most technologically advanced thin-film solar module.”
Series 6 CuRe builds on the success of First Solar’s Series 6 technology, a large-format thin-film module. The Series 6 CuRe module technology features a -0.28%/°C temperature coefficient, which improves upon the existing Series 6 baseline. Series 6 CuRe comes with the industry’s first cell-cracking warranty.
Mark Widmar, chief executive officer of First Solar, commented, “Series 6 CuRe represents innovation in its truest form. From engineering the atoms in the semiconductor to its ability to withstand extreme weather events such as hailstorms, and from the social license that comes built-in to being able to recycle over 90% of each module, this responsibly-produced technology is packed with innovation designed to address many of our customers’ biggest challenges.”
News item from First Solar