Everything has a limit. Even optimization of solar cells – which has been so far the key for increasing efficiency for standard cell structures – is reaching a kind of threshold. Thus moving to next level cell architectures is increasingly becoming necessary.  In this regard, the PERC cell structure, an abbreviation of Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell, is attracting a lot of traction. While it is cheap to upgrade standard cell technology to PERC and not complicated at all, an increasing number of companies announced new record level performances with PERC technology. PERC is now the talk of the solar town.

Me and my TaiyangNews colleague Michael Schmela have prepared a comprehensive report, “PERC Solar Cell Technology 2016 – Background, Status and Outlook”, which can be downloaded for free here.

PERC – the platform for higher efficiencies

A good evidence for increased interest in PERC technology is that best efficiencies have been attained by PV manufactures rather than research institutes, which also underscores the industrial feasibility of the technology. Many companies are quickly expanding capacities, adding nearly 12 GW this year, as Michael showed in a recent article.

As explained in the 3rd chapter of our study, “Recent PERC Cell Efficiency Records – from Companies and Institutes”, from May 2015 until now 7 different record efficiencies were reported for PERC cells by several cell makers. The world’s largest company, Trina Solar, holds the world record for PERC cell performance at 22.13% for monocrystalline and also for multicrystalline PERC cells at 21.25%. Taiwanese company Sunrise Global already attained 21% in production for top cells. The German HELENE research project, which is coordinated by SolarWorld, targets 22.5% efficient PERC mono cells by the end of 2017.

Research institute ISFH listed developments for industrial-type PERC cells that could lead to cell efficiencies beyond 24%. If PERC should get close to that level soon, it will make life pretty hard for any of the other emerging high-efficiency cell technologies.