The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Solar Junction have set a new solar energy record, reaching 44% efficiency as the amount of energy from sunlight that can be converted to electricity by solar cells.
This new type of cell is similar to others that have garnered new milestones, combining the concept of layered semiconductors with low-cost concentrating lenses to multiply the intensity of the sunlight hitting each cell.
Last year the group hit a record with SJ3 cells, which are used in utility-scale concentrated solar PV projects. These had a conversion rate of 43.5%, half a percentage point lower than the newest record. NREL believes that this, along with other advances, is helping to â€œpave the way for a 50%-efficient solar cell in the not-distant future.â€
â€œThis is really a classic example of NREL developing something and then industry picking it up and running with it and making it a great commercial success,â€ said Daniel Friedman, manager of the NREL-III-V Multijunction Photovoltaics Group. â€œWe started with some very basic materials research. We took it to the point where it made sense for industry to take over and take it to the marketplace.â€
There seems to be more and more good news on the solar energy front lately, with costs coming down and efficiency going up. 2013 is already shaping up to be another great year fort solar power developments.