US-based solar PV module start-up Semprius said it has set a world record for photovoltaic module efficiency, reaching 33.9 percent – the first time a company has claimed an efficiency rating of more than one third. The rating, which was achieved in tests indoors and outdoors in Spain, beats the previous record of 32 per cent.
“This is a significant milestone for Semprius and the entire PV industry,” Scott Burroughs, vice president of Technology at Semprius, said in a statement. “For the first time, we have been able to convert more than one-third of the sun’s energy into usable electricity. This demonstrates how concentrated PV can leverage rapidly increasing efficiencies to continue driving down the cost of solar generated electricity.”
Semprius CEO Joe Carr said the results were achieved with a module that is part of the normal production systems, and will be commercially available later this year. The company, which is 16 per cent owned by European indusdtrial group Siemens, is building a pilot plant near its home base in North Carolina and plans to begin commercial production there in the second half of the year.
Martin Pfund, the head of Siemens Energy Photovoltaic Business Unit, said the results “show us that we have bet on the right technology” and said it had the potential to become a “game changer” for the solar market in regions with strong solar irradiation. He said Siemens will use the technology to broader its portfolio in the PV market.
According to CleanTechnica, Semprius has developed its innovative high concentrating photovoltaic (HCPV) module systems with support from the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Semprius says it has developed a proprietary micro-transfer printing process. “This enables the company to fabricate the world’s smallest solar cell – approximately the size of a pencil point – to create solar modules with unmatched efficiency and performance.” Smaller cells translate into lower module costs. It says the technology is particularly suitable for sunbelt regions with a lot of direct sunlight.