New Record in Solar Power Efficiency

Zachary Shahan

A Chinese company set a new world record in solar power efficiency this week. According to the company, Suntech Power Holdings, they achieved a 15.6% conversion efficiency on “a commercial grade multi-crystalline silicon PV module.” This breaks a 15-year-old world record set by US company Sandia National Labs.

Sandia National Labs’ record was only a fraction lower, 15.5%, but that makes all the difference when we are talking about a world record. The conversion efficiency for Suntech Power Holdings’ new module was independently tested by Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Germany.

According to the Chinese company, the product’s solar efficiency could even be as high as 16% in reality. In their press release, they write: “Suntech’s world record breaking multi-crystalline silicon module is powered by Pluto PV cells utilizing solar grade silicon with each PV cell having a conversion efficiency well over 17%. The previous record was based on an aperture area or frameless module. In contrast, Suntech’s new world record efficiency includes the framed area, without which Suntech believes it would achieve a conversion efficiency of well over 16%.”

Scientific journal, Progress in Photovoltaics (PIP), accepted the new world record. One of the journal’s committee members, Martin Green (Research Director of the ARC Photovoltaics Centre of Excellence at the University of New South Wales, Australia), says: “Improving the conversion efficiency of multi-crystalline silicon modules has proven particularly challenging and this is a very impressive achievement for such a large module from a commercial supplier. I can confirm that the 15.6% multi-crystalline module result is the highest known conversion efficiency measured by a PIP-recognized test center.”

The good news is that there is great possibility for further developments in the technology used to create this new product. Dr. Stuart Wenham, Suntech’s Chief Technology Officer, says that this new record “clearly demonstrates the power and versatility of the Pluto technology” and “we believe there is still room for plenty more improvement in Pluto as we push the boundaries of technology development to bring more powerful and reliable solar products to market.”

The first commercial products using this multi-crystalline silicon PV module are set to ship off for use this year!

For more information on this article, read the press release here.


Image credit: ">Dead Air via flickr under a Creative Commons license

Article Appears Courtesy of Cleantechnica

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Randy D. 10°

Strange that it's taken 15 years to beat the old record, but great news that they have made progress in getting more energy from the sun that they were previously. Can only be good for us and the environment.

Written in August 2009

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