A few years back we reported on the establishment of Honda Soltec, a Honda subsidiary devoted to the development of thin-film solar technology. This week that same group announced that it would be releasing a new thin-film cell that will rank among the world's most efficient with an expected module conversion efficiency of more than 13%.

The improvement over Honda Soltec's previous CIGS-based (Copper indium gallium [di]selenide) cells is primarily owing to a more compact design, with non-photosensitive parts of the cell being reduced.

This results is a 10% increase in efficiency over the old model, as well as a smaller surface area measuring in at 926 × 738 × 37mm (35.5 x 29.1 x 1.5 inches). The smaller design means that the modules can be installed on many different types of roof shaped in a variety of locations.

While this new prototype has achieved 13% module conversion efficiency, Honda expects to see improvements as it brings the product to market. The company didn't elaborate on whether its photovoltaic cell technology had increased in efficiency, but improving the product via a smarter design is certainly a step that competitors can learn from.

Here are Honda's specifications of the new module as they compare to the old one:

PrototypeCurrent Model (HEM130PCA) TypeCIGSCIGS Nominal maximum output per module (W)89130 External dimensions (mm)926 × 738 × 371,417 × 791 × 37 Module conversion efficiency13%11.6% Weight (kg)8.714.3 Nominal open circuit voltage (V)190280