SunPower claims 22.8 per cent solar module efficiency record

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PV Magazine

The advantages of high efficiency modules have seen them deployed on the Solar Impulse aircraft. Shuttershock

The advantages of high efficiency modules have seen them deployed on the Solar Impulse aircraft.

U.S. high efficiency cell and module manufacturer SunPower has claimed a module efficiency world record of 22.8%. In a result verified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) SunPower claims its latest X-Series module is now the most efficient on the market.

While lower efficiency multicrystalline PV modules continue to make up the bulk of the global PV market, high efficiency manufacturers continue to push their technology forward. California’s SunPower has now produced a 22.8% efficient module, in a development that it says will help homeowners to produce more solar power from a limited roof space.

In a claim that is hard to verify, SunPower claims an array using its X-Series modules will produce over 70% more electricity than competitor modules on a given roof over 25 years.

SunPower E-Series and X-Series modules are available in the U.S., with its E-Series and X21 modules available in Europe, Japan and Australia.

A statement from SunPower claims four efficiency records over the last five years.

“19.5% efficiency in May 2010 with E19 solar panel;
20% efficiency in July 2011 with E20 solar panel;
21% efficiency in April 2013 with X21 solar panel:
[and a] 22% efficiency in November 2015 with X22 solar panel.”

“Solar technology differs widely from brand to brand, so it’s important for consumers to consider that not all panels deliver the same amount of energy, look elegant on a roof, or are guaranteed to last as long as promised,” said Howard Wenger, SunPower president, business units.

SunPower’s high efficiency modules have been used in innovative solar-transport projects including the Solar Impulse aircraft (pictured) and Tûranor PlanetSolar boat. While its headquarters are in California, SunPower produces its modules in the Philippines and is owned by French oil giant Total.

Source: PV Magazine. Reproduced with permission.  

  • phred01

    As soon as the efficiency reaches around 45% this will set the cat amongst the pigeons

    • Frank

      45? That’s not likely to ever be achieved or needed. At 20% it was game over, 25% will just make it easier to have excess generation.

      • jeffhre

        46 has been achieved. A bit to expensive to deploy – for now.

        • Jens Stubbe

          There are a number of ways to design multiple junction solar cells and basically it is only a matter of industrialization before they can be cheap enough for niche applications. If you for instance want to enhance the range of EV’s or other electric transport then light weight high efficiency counts more than cost.

          Whether they will perform at 45% is anyones guess but in theory it is certainly possible in lab test conditions now.

          It is probably safe to conclude that the current trend towards higher efficiencies for all types of solar cells will continue and it is also certain that heterojunction and multifunction solar cells will gain traction in niche markets.

          • Frank

            More importantly, it’s unnecccessay to drift much higher than today’s 22-24% unless it’s just as cheap. Multi-junction NASA arrays are unlikely to ever be truely cheap as a single layer panel.

          • Jens Stubbe

            Solar roofing is fast becoming economically viable as solar modules nears the square meter price of the top roof. Once you go there the module to inverter ratio shifts significantly.

            The further from equator the more solar module to inverter capacity is required for grid deflectors so I think if utilities keeps being greedy then the response will be grid deflection by technology enhancement.

            For utility scale two axis trackers and possible heat storage can increase the capacity factor significantly and make part of the output dispatchable.

            I think you are wrong in assuming that single junction will remain the cheapest option for long. In fact CdTe are creeping very close and there are a number of methods being developed for dual junction and multiple junction solar that could surpass classic silicon solar and even silicon solar could go heterojunction and significantly thinner and more efficient than today.