Abstract This study investigates how to apply space-charge-limited (SCL) current to describe shunt leakage current in a CIGS solar cell. Possible factors inducing SCL current have been observed through conductive atomic force microscopy (C-AFM), which supports the SCL current theory, describing the shunt current of a CIGS solar cell. In simulations derived from experimental data, deviation of dark IV curves is due to flaws in the real device. These flaws are absent in simulation, but investigation verifies the characteristics of SCL current component's experimental IV curves within shunt leakage current. A device with a metal/CIGS/metal structure could simulate SCL current and confirm its characteristics. Such a simulated structure, representing flaws inserted into a CIGS solar cell, generates the same dark-current behavior revealed in experimental dark IV curves. This study investigates the response of dark current to varying sizes of the flaw within the CIGS solar cell.