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December 8th, 2009

Solarmer Energy breaks record with 7.9% efficiency

Published on December 8th, 2009 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

(Via Treehugger) Solarmer Energy has announced that the company has achieved a new certified-by-NREL record for efficiency with their plastic organic photovoltaic solar cells. Solarmer feels that their plastic OPV cells represent a new generation of solar cells that are flexible, transparent and less expensive to produce than silicon solar panels.

Solarmer uses low cost plastic and inexpensive printing and fabrication techniques to make their cells, and are shooting for a 10% efficiency by the end of next year. They are currently in the middle of building their “proof of manufacturability” production line  and expect to have a full-scale manufacturing line producing commercial panels by early 2011.

In an interview with PV-tech.org, Keith Emery, who manages NREL’s PV cell and module performance and characterization team of the NREL, said, “It’s the best organic device we’ve seen to date, period. That’s a milestone for the technology in and of itself, so we updated the chart where we keep efficiency versus time at the cell level for various technologies. This is a new point on that plot.”

Emery is being diplomatic in his comments, actually. Yes, OPVs have the potential for being made inexpensively, but they are still – by far – the least efficient approach to PV power. Given the relative inefficiency of OPVs, for now they only make sense in applications where bendability and flexibility are highly desirable, or the product is designed to have a limited lifespan.

Thus, its not surprising the Solarmer says they’re targeting mobile phones, along with solar tents, bags and other fabric items as the first applications for their cells.

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