Although we’ve seen sunlight to electricity conversion efficiencies of over 40 percent with multi-junction solar cells in lab environments, most mass-produced cells can only boast a conversion rate of around 15 percent. Now SunPower Corp., a Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar power systems, has claimed a new world record solar cell efficiency of 24.2 percent.

Solar cell efficiency is the rate at which the cells capture and convert sunlight into energy. The 24.2 percent efficiency record for large-scale silicon wafers was confirmed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) on a full-scale prototype produced at the SunPower Corp.’s manufacturing plant in the Philippines.

"This new world record demonstrates SunPower's ability to extend our lead in manufacturing the world's highest efficiency solar cells," said Bill Mulligan, vice president of technology and development for SunPower. "Our patented and proprietary, high-efficiency solar cell technology drives down the cost of solar energy by increasing the energy production from each solar panel."

Improved cell efficiency is a much sought after goal of researchers and manufacturers of solar cells as it increases the cost effectiveness of solar cells by allowing the equivalent or greater amount of power to be captured using the same area of solar cells.