First Solar Inc. announced it set a new world record for cadmium-telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) solar cell efficiency, reaching 17.3 percent with a test cell constructed using commercial-scale manufacturing equipment and materials. The test cell’s performance, confirmed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), far surpassed the previous record of 16.7 percent set in 2001.

First Solar Cadmium-Telluride (CdTe) Photovoltaic Solar CellThe average efficiency of First Solar modules produced in the first quarter of 2011 was 11.7 percent, up from 11.1 percent a year earlier, and the company has recorded full-module efficiencies over 13.5 percent, with a 13.4 percent module confirmed by NREL. First Solar’s module efficiency roadmap sets a goal for production-module efficiencies of 13.5-14.5 percent by the end of 2014.

First Solar utilizes a continuous manufacturing process which transforms a sheet of glass into a complete solar module in less than 2.5 hours, which contributes to the company’s industry-leading energy payback time and the low carbon footprint of systems using First Solar PV modules. First Solar also implemented the industry’s first comprehensive, prefunded solar module collection and recycling program. Anyone wishing to dispose of First Solar modules can request collection at any time, at no additional cost, and First Solar will pick up the modules and recycle up to 90% (by mass) of the material for use in new products, including new solar modules and new glass products.

First Solar manufactures solar modules with an advanced semiconductor technology, and is a premier provider of comprehensive photovoltaic (PV) system solutions. The company is delivering an economically viable alternative to fossil-fuel generation today. From raw material sourcing through end-of-life collection and recycling, First Solar is focused on creating value-driven renewable energy solutions that protect and enhance the environment. For more information about First Solar, please visit www.firstsolar.com.