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Terrestrial Solar Cell Surpasses 40 Percent Efficiency

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December 6, 2006

December 7, 2006 Spectrolab has achieved a new world record in terrestrial concentrator solar cell efficiency. Using concentrated sunlight, Spectrolab demonstrated the ability of a photovoltaic cell to convert 40.7 percent of the sun's energy into electricity. The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) verified the milestone. High efficiency multijunction cells have a significant advantage over conventional silicon cells in concentrator systems because fewer solar cells are required to achieve the same power output. This technology will continue to dramatically reduce the cost of generating electricity from solar energy as well as the cost of materials used in high-power space satellites and terrestrial applications.

"This solar cell performance is the highest efficiency level any photovoltaic device has ever achieved," said Dr. David Lillington, president of Spectrolab. "The terrestrial cell we have developed uses the same technology base as our space-based cells. So, once qualified, they can be manufactured in very high volumes with minimal impact to production flow."

"These results are particularly encouraging since they were achieved using a new class of metamorphic semiconductor materials, allowing much greater freedom in multijunction cell design for optimal conversion of the solar spectrum," said Dr. Richard R. King, principal investigator of the high efficiency solar cell research and development effort. "The excellent performance of these materials hints at still higher efficiency in future solar cells."

Spectrolab is reducing the cost of solar cell production through research investments and is working with several domestic and international solar concentrator manufacturers on clean, renewable solar energy solutions. Currently, Spectrolab's terrestrial concentrator cells are generating power in a 33-kilowatt full-scale concentrator system in the Australian desert. The company recently signed multi-million dollar contracts for its high efficiency concentrator cells and is anticipating several new contracts in the next few months.

Development of the high-efficiency concentrator cell technology was funded by the NREL's High Performance Photovoltaics program and Spectrolab.

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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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2 Comments

Yet another milestone in solar cell efficiency.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

Dr.A.Jagadeesh

This article from 2006 mentions how \"once qualified, they can be manufactured in very high volumes with minimal impact to production flow.\" It\'s 2010. Why aren\'t these in production yet? Why is just now 24% the new record for production cells? We need cells with this efficiency to actually make it to production, not languish in a lab. People won\'t buy cells in quantity until there is a definite payback in the range of 3 years, not 10 years. Commercializing solar cells with faster payback, by making them either cheaper or more efficient, is the only way we will be able to truly change most people\'s energy source to renewable and non polluting.

Mark in MI
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