Schott Solar Cells achieve new efficiency records

September 1, 2011 § 2 Comments

The team at Schott Solar have been all fired up about their monocrystalline screen-printed solar cells; and they have reason to be excited with a cell power of 4.92 W.

In 2010 Schott Solar made waves with the world record for a module efficiency of 17.6 percent with their multicrystalline cell concepts.  With more than three years of development and research under their belts they were able to apply their expertise to monocrystalline.

SCHOTT Solar Poly 230W, 235W, 240W

Schott - 230W, 235W, 240W

Utilizing selective emitter technology and passivated rear side contact (PERC) they were able to achieve a cell that is now the world’s first 156 mm x 156 mm screen-printed solar cell with 20.2 percent efficiency. (Laboratory results in conjunction with The Schmid Group from Freudenstadt, Germany)

Schott Solar reports they are energized by these findings and are working on optimizing the manufacturing process for development of highly efficient modules. To follow the progress of Schott Solar’s new cell technology they will be sharing information at The 26th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC).

Click here to find out more about Schott panels.


Bosch Solar breaks world record with new cell design

May 5, 2011 § 6 Comments

Bosch Solar Energy announced that Bosch silicon cells have achieved a world record. The independent calibration laboratory at Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems has confirmed that a degree of efficiency of 19.6 percent has been reached for Bosch monocrystalline solar cells*.  Normally, a silicon-based screen printed solar cell will achieve efficiencies of 17 to 18.5 percent. The output of the cells can reach an outstanding 4.73 Watt peak.

Bosch Solar Cells

Bosch Solar Energy has been working on these new record-breaking cells for quite some time. The design structure on this new altered cell is referred to as PERC which stands for “Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell”.  The rear side of the cell as well as the front was optimized for the solar cells’ optical and electrical properties.

An immediate practical application for these optimized cells is that the cell’s performance is improved under weak lighting conditions and increased ambient temperatures. This means a higher energy yield for solar consumers even during winter months or overcast days.

Most consumers are familiar with Bosch power tools or home appliances. Installers and consumers alike should familiarize themselves with Bosch Solar. Founded in 1886, Bosch is a worldwide company and a market leader in patents. If you have a twenty-five year warranty on your solar panels you’ll want a company that you know will be around for a long time!

For more information on Bosch Solar Energy please click here.

* monocrystalline solar cells with screen-printed metallization in 156 x 156 mm format.
   For full Bosch Solar Energy press release click here

Payback of PV? What? Why payback . . . it’s the wrong investment metric!

February 4, 2011 § 1 Comment

In the conversational world of PV economics . . . the issue always is the same.  It’s a conditioned response.   PV is a great technology, but it costs too much, and the payback is way too long!

What?  Whose idea is this, and why has it stuck?  Payback is simply the wrong economic measure for evaluating a PV system.

Payback = cost of project / annual cash inflows

Two things we know about PV:

  1. The total cost of the system is incurred upfront; operating costs are nominal.
  2. The economic return (electricity generated) is measured over a very long period of time (25 to 40 years).

There are two major problems with using payback as the all-encompassing measure of economic success:

  1. It is simply a measure of time for the return of initial capital investment.  It ignores costs and benefits after the payback period.  It is not a measure of system profitability.
  2. It does not pay attention to the time value of money.

Payback is a risk-weighted relic of oil and gas exploration economic analysis.  This oil well will payback in six months!  OK, that’s fun to think about, but what if it is a dry hole?  A PV system is never a dry hole.  Payback is not a measure of investment return.  It is simply a time period. 

So when asked the question: what is the return on your PV investment?  The answer is a discounted (time valued) rate of return of ___% over 25 years.  This metric respects initial and ongoing cash investments, operating expenses, income,  residual value, tax implications, and the value of money over a finite period of time.  This is the measure of economic value.

Quality counts.  A user may choose an inexpensive, low quality PV system and save 20% on initial system costs and thereby reduce the payback from 10 years to 7 years.  But, a PV system should last 25 to 40 years.  If the system has a short payback but produces electricity at a lower rate after 10 or 20 years, the investment return will be low.  In this sense, a short payback is a false economy.

Also, when you invest in a PV system (home or business), you become a small-scale independent power producer (IPP).  It’s as simple as that.  As such, the amount of power you produce over thirty years is most important, not the payback.

When you make a capital investment in a PV system that lowers your operating costs of your home or business, you immediately increase the value of your home or business.  How could it be different?  If you include this incremental value (15 to 20 times the annual value of the electricity produced) in your payout calculation, the payback will invariably be less than 5 years. 

So, payback is not the perfect measure, but if someone insists on asking, feel comfortable saying less than five years and that assumes no increase in utility rates for thirty years. 

Is PV economic?  Yes it is – from every angle.  Just do it!

Chet Boortz, CEO


Workshop @ SES21USA

December 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

Attendees from all areas of the solar industry, including roofers, electricians, solar installers and PV enthusiasts enjoyed two days of instructive discussions on solar design, product comparison and installation. The sold out workshop was offered in conjunction with Schletter, Inc., a leading manufacturer of solar mounting systems, and Kaco new energy, Inc, the second largest global manufacturer of solar electric inverters.

If you’d like to attend one of our Workshops in 2011, send an e-mail to Marie and reserve your spot today or simply subscribe to our blog and get latest news about workshops, projects, products & technologies, economics & policies concerning the solar industry in the US.

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