American solar panel maker First Solar, Inc. has claimed the lowest warranted degradation rate of 0.2% annually for its Series 6 CuRe, and says this is the lowest for any commercially available PV module product to date.
The manufacturer further added that this ‘unprecedented’ degradation rate is up to 60% lower than conventional crystalline silicon (c-Si) products, and ensures that the module will retain at least 92% of its original performance at the end of the 30-year performance warranty. The double glass bifacial solar modules, which boast the highest longevity among the commercially available crystalline silicon modules, are typically rated with 85% degradation at the end of their 30-year performance warranty.
Series 6 CuRe builds on the US company’s Series 6 large format thin film module, and CuRe stands for its copper replacement program which is a technique developed by First Solar internally at its Silicon Valley and Ohio R&D centers. It terms this as a proprietary semiconductor platform that replaces copper with atoms of Group V elements leading to enhanced performance and long term stability.
First Solar says that this Series 6 CuRe module technology features a -0.28%/ 0C temperature coefficient, improving on its existing Series 6 baseline and a ‘superior’ spectral response that allows it to outperform c-Si in hot and humid environments.
“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,” said First Solar’s CTO, Markus Gloeckler. “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.”
The company also claims Series 6 CuRe as having 2.5 times lower carbon footprint compared to high-efficiency monocrystalline silicon, and a lower water footprint.
The manufacturer, which operates module production facilities in the US and Malaysia, exited 2020 having produced 6.1 GW of total solar module capacity, comprising 5.9 GW of Series 6. In 2021, it aims to increase its fleet-wide nameplate capacity to 8.7 GW (see First Solar’s Net Sales Decline To $2.7 Billion).