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While we’ve been waiting for HelioVolt, the Austin, Texas-based thin film solar company to start selling its product, the startup said on Monday that it has produced solar cells that are 12.2 percent efficient — and manufactured them in under 6 minutes. That’s one of the […]

While we’ve been waiting for HelioVolt, the Austin, Texas-based thin film solar company to start selling its product, the startup said on Monday that it has produced solar cells that are 12.2 percent efficient — and manufactured them in under 6 minutes. That’s one of the most efficient thin film solar cells out there made out of Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS). And not to mention a quick production!

Competitor Tucson, Arizona-based Global Solar Energy says its CIGS solar products have sustained around a 10-percent efficiency. Nanosolar’s CEO Martin Roscheisen is vague about the company’s efficiency but told us the startup’s panels can get similar or higher efficiencies to Global Solar’s 10 percent. The National Renewable Energy Laboratories has said it can get an efficiency of almost 20 percent from a CIGS solar cell.

HelioVolt’s CEO BJ Stanbery will present the 12.2 percent efficiency breakthrough at the IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference on Monday. The company plans to start selling product in late 2008 or early 2009 — we’ll see if the company can repeat those efficient results over sustained, commercial scale.

Update: SunPower, which produces more traditional silicon-based solar cells, said this morning that it has produced a five inch solar cell with an efficiency of 23.4 percent — SunPower calls this “a world-record for a large area solar cell.”

By Katie Fehrenbacher

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