Solar panel breaks "third of a sun" efficiency barrier

Embattled photovoltaic solar power manufacturer Amonix announced on Tuesday that it has broken the solar module efficiency record, becoming the first manufacturer to convert more than a third of incoming light energy into electricity – a goal once branded "one third of a sun" in a Department of Energy initiative. The Amonix module clocked an efficiency rating of 33.5 percent.

During a period of testing by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory back in May, a peak efficiency of 34.2 percent was achieved, which Amonix claims is the highest ever reached by a PV module under real-world conditions. However, Amonix is only now drawing attention to the breakthrough, which saw its own record of 30.3 percent efficiency broken.

Amonix modules employ concentrated photovoltaics (CPV) technology, which add optical whizbangery such as mirrors and lenses to concentrate more direct sunlight onto individual solar cells. The technology is not to be confused with concentrated solar power, which applies similar optical technology to solar thermal systems which heat water, but also generate electricity with the addition of a heat engine.

The solar module efficiency is the efficiency of the panel, and not the same as the efficiency of individual solar cells from which it's comprised. At the moment, solar cell efficiency can just exceed 43 percent for concentrated systems. It's the module efficiency, however, which reflects the amount of electricity a PV system can produce.

The breakthrough could provide a shot in the arm for Amonix, which, the Las Vegas Review Journal recently reported, closed its Las Vegas manufacturing center in July. Though it's tempting to write Amonix's hardships into the narrative of Western solar manufacturers struggling to compete in a market awash with cheap solar panels from China, the Review Journal piece hints at a more complex and unfortunate cocktail of woes.

Whatever the difficulties, the technological edge that this record demonstrates certainly can't hurt the company's chances of future success.

Comments

this is nothing new.
they use CPV cells in space.
CPV gets about 40% efficiency

In space, there is no atmosphere to filter out most of the sun's energy hence the energy hitting cells in space is about 20x higher compared to that on Earth.
As for efficiency... meh... 40% is the highest achievable with commercial and cheap materials.
Superior synthetic materials like carbon nanotubes and synthetic diamonds could have been used in solar panels as early as of 1992 and 1996.
The efficiency ratio from that alone would probably be 10 to 20x higher... and of course, more durability for space based solar panels.

Sigh... Capitalism is moronic.

Crony Capitalism may be moronic but thank His Noodliness that alternative energy development doesn't just rest in the clammy hands of government-only responsibility (regardless of the governmental flavour someone prefers). It's not the only motivator, but profitability is certainly up there (particularly when the profit is not just measured in money).

As happy as i am to hear about advancements in solar panels, i am always curious to hear about the environmental and practical side of these advances that are nearly never discussed.

This is an example of a for profit company trying to do research and competing with the rest of the industry players at the same time. It can't be done without outside help, usually from a state infusing tax payer money into the company to keep it's investors happy. Think how much more progress we could make if a better incentive other than money was in place.

Thank you for giving information about the solar panel.