First solar cells to hit grid parity?

QSolar Limited claims it will be the first solar company in the world to hit grid parity with crystalline silicon solar panels. Of course, no one will know for sure whether or not this is true until the company begins volume production of its new Kruciwatt panels, scheduled for Q4 of 2011.

QSolar will begin manufacturing the panels in Shanghai, China. The initial production run forecast to achieve grid parity will be to fullfil a $75.4 million order for Commercial Solar Design Inc. of California.

QSolar claims it has already produced cells in its laboratory using its proprietary Kruciwatt wafer manufacturing process that achieved grid parity. It is now trying to scale up its production to commercial quantities. It says the manufacturing cost of its Kruciwatt panels is below $0.74/W, and other commercially available panels are selling at around $1.50/W in volume quantities.

Cells are fabricated using Qsolar's proprietary patent pending Spraytek process and its own designs. QSolar says these panels offer several advantages over competing products as they have significantly lower losses in hot climates, have better encapsulation that leads to a longer cell life, and cost less than equivalent products. In addition, QSolar offers solar panels with positive tolerance which means the cells have a guaranteed output which can be up to 5% more than the actual specifications.

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