All solar panels have a lifespan. After near-constant bombardment from the sun’s powerful rays, solar panels lose efficacy, and most solar panels in the United States have a functional lifespan of around 30 years. These panels continue to produce energy, but at a significantly lower rate than when they are new. While there are channels to recycle solar panels into brand new shiny units, many companies are developing solar panels that generate high levels of electricity for several decades. American solar panel manufacturer, First Solar, launched a new product that’s proving to be the most resilient solar panel in the world.
First Solar’s Series 6 CuRe panels retain 92 percent of their efficacy at the end of their 30-year-warranty, well over the industry standard of 76 percent. First Solar states that their panels degrade at a rate of just 0.2 percent efficiency while most solar panels degrade at a rate of 0.8 percent. “This unprecedented degradation rate is up to 60 percent lower than conventional crystalline silicon (c-Si) products, and ensures that the module will retain at least 92 percent of its original performance at the end of its 30-year warranty,” the company shared in a press release.
The added resiliency is the result of over $1.4 billion in research and development into replacements for the copper in traditional solar panels. “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,” explained Markus Gloeckler, chief technology officer at First Solar. “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 CuRe panel is also more resilient to rough handling and impact damage like the kind that happens from hail or extreme weather. “This truly is a product that delivers more in every respect,” said Georges Antoun, First Solar’s chief commercial officer. “Series 6 CuRe is built with our customers’ needs in mind. It delivers not just more performance, but fast installation with lower structural costs, industry-leading quality, reliability, and durability, and unparalleled levels of traceability and transparency.”
Extreme heat and cold conditions can also alter a solar panel’s long-term performance, but the new CuRe panel is rated to operate well outside the optimal conditions. “This truly is a product that delivers more in every respect,” said Georges Antoun, First Solar’s chief commercial officer. “Series 6 CuRe is built with our customers’ needs in mind. It delivers not just more performance, but fast installation with lower structural costs, industry-leading quality, reliability, and durability, and unparalleled levels of traceability and transparency.” All of First Solar’s panels are produced under one roof, and their facility in Ohio provides some of the highest quality solar panels in the world. Nowadays, when many large-scale solar arrays are underscored with foreign manufacturers, the most resilient solar panels on the global market are American-made.