First Solar Claims its CuRe Panels Have the Lowest Degradation Rates

First Solar, which manufactures the Cadmium Tellurium CuRe Series 6 photo-voltaic (PV) panels, claims that these panels have the lowest degradation rates in the PV industry. According to First Solar, at the end of the 30-year warranty period, their Series 6 CuRe will still function at 92% efficiency. However, these claims have not been verified by an independent entity as yet.

According to First Solar, they have managed to do this due to their Copper Replacement (CuRe) technology in the new panels. Using this technology, the panel maker could replace copper (Cu) with elements from the fifth group (Group V) in the Periodic Table. The elements in this group are nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), bismuth (Bi), arsenic (As), and antimony (Nb).

First, Solar has used CuRe to replace the copper with arsenic and antimony. This unique doping method was done in partnership with National Renewable Energy Laboratory in 2019, and the method was then presented in a study. In the technology, arsenic and antimony were placed on tellurium crystal sites.

Benefits of the New Series 6 Panels

Anti-Cracking Properties

This CuRe technology has improved the characteristics of the new Series 6 panels. Replacing copper with Group V elements like arsenic and antimony has improved the anti-cracking characteristics of the panels. Earlier panels used were prone to cell cracking if the panels were mishandled during installation.

Cell cracking can also be a result of extreme natural conditions like hailstorms or heavy winds. However, the new panels by First Solar are much more robust and stronger. This is because the new PV panels come with an anti-cracking guarantee.

Lower Degradation Rate

Another advantage of replacing copper with Group V elements is that the degradation rate has reduced to about 0.2% per year. The degradation rate of the new panels is 60% lower than conventional crystalline silicon panels. This new technology may catapult First Solar to the head of the PV table.

Also, the temperature coefficient of the new CuRe Series 6 panels is −0.28%. This means that the new panels can operate in hotter and more humid conditions—no doubt this is a great plus for First Solar.

Lower Carbon/Water Footprint

First Solar also claims that the new panels have a 2.5 times lower carbon footprint than conventional crystalline silicon panels. The new Series 6 panels also have a lower water footprint.

Features of the First Solar Series 6 PV Panels

Here are some features of the First Solar Series 6 Panels:

  • Available in six wattages from 450 to 480 W
  • Panels have a power conversion efficiency of 19.3% to 19.0%
  • Panel size: 202.4 × 124.5 cm
  • Weight of each panel: about 39.4 kg
  • Open-circuit voltage is between 221.7 V and 226.0 V
  • The maximum system voltage for the module is 1500 V
  • Short-circuit current range: from 2.66 to 2.67 A
  • Operating temperatures: Between −40°C and 85°C
  • 12-year product guarantee
  • 30-year linear power output guarantee

Conclusion

First Solar has used a new doping technique to replace copper with arsenic and antimony in their new CuRe Series 6 PV panels. These panels claim to have a meager degradation rate of 0.2% per year. The new panels are also more robust, and the company claims they have strong anti-cracking properties. They are also able to operate under harsher conditions. However, these claims still need to be verified.

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