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Solar Panel Efficiency Hits New Records

Solar Panel Efficiency Hits New Records
May 18, 2020 Andrea Mariano

Background

Solar panels are becoming more powerful and efficient by the day. In 1955, Hoffman Electronics-Semiconductor Division introduced photovoltaic products with a 2% efficiency[1]. Nowadays the efficiency of a solar panel is in the range of 15% to 22%, depending on factors like placement, orientation, weather conditions, and similar; and the average nominal power of a solar panel is 320W[2].

solar panel efficiency

Figure 1 – Solar power plant[3]

Recent Developments

In April 2020 the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) claimed a new record for solar panel efficiency. The Six-junction III–V cell achieved 47.1% efficiency under lab conditions, and when tuned to the global spectrum, a variation of this structure achieves a 1-Sun (1000W/m2) global efficiency of 39.2%. Such high efficiencies are achieved thanks to multi-junction technology. Single-junction cells can achieve a maximum efficiency of 30%[4]. However, multi-junction cells carry higher costs and are predominantly used for space applications[5]. 

In the same month, Trina claimed a new peak power record for its Vertex series of panels, which has reached 516Wp during independent testing. The company has also added that in the future the panel Vortex will reach 600Wp with improvements to its design and manufacture. Such advancements can help reduce the Levelized Cost Of Electricity (LCOE) of solar power, increasing the profitability of plants[6]. 

Conclusions

Solar power has become one of the cheapest sources of electricity[7], and is on track to become more affordable in the future. Such improvements are key to increase the deployment of solar capacity, which is set to grow six-fold by 2030[8], and achieve the renewable targets set by the Paris Agreement. 

Pager Power

A common requirement for developers is to ensure that Solar PV developments will not cause unacceptable impacts associated with reflected sunlight by the panels. Pager Power’s glint and glare assessments are comprehensive, covering all technical aspects that are regularly required. If you wish to discuss any of your existing or upcoming projects, please do not hesitate to contact the team.

References

[1] History of Solar Energy, BySolar, n.d., last access: 17/05/2020.
[2] How Efficient Are Solar Panels?, Green Match, date:01/05/2020, last access: 17/05/2020.
[3] Solar Power Plant, Petr Kratochvil, n.d., last access: 18/05/2020.
[4] Six-junction III–V solar cells with 47.1% conversion efficiency under 143 Suns concentration, Geisz et al., 13/04/2020, last access: 17/05/2020.
[5] NREL Developing Improved Tech to Lower Costs for Multi-Junction Solar Cells, Chris Meehan, date: 13/04/2020, last access: 17/05/2020.
[6] Trina Solar module tops 515W output in independent testing, Sophie Vorrath, 28/04/2020, last access: 17/05/2020.
[7] Solar and Wind Cheapest Sources of Power in Most of the World, Brian Eckhouse, date: 28/04/2020, last access: 17/05/2020.
[8] Future of Solar Photovoltaic, IRENA, date:11/2019, last access: 17/05/2020.

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