The panel is one of the first crystalline modules with an energy payback time of one year, REC says, and also has a lighter than average carbon footprint during its manufacture.
The payback time assessment is based on locations generating about 1700 kWh/m² per year – which is typical for southern Europe and the northern U.S., REC says.
As part of the lifecycle assessment, carried out by the Netherlands’ Energy Research Centre, REC found that the carbon footprint of an REC system is between 18 and 22 g/kWh, depending on the manufacturing chain. A more conventional photovoltaic system has a footprint of around 35 g/kWh, the company says.
Earlier this week a study by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association claimed that, as manufacturing costs continue to fall, solar power could become competitive with grid electricity in some European markets as early as 2013.
The report says there is a potential for a further 50 percent reduction in the cost of producing solar electricity.