The highest over 40% conversion efficiency of sunlight to electricity achieved

SW
Australia’s solar researchers have converted over 40% of the sunlight hitting a
solar system into electricity, the highest efficiency ever reported. The record
efficiency was achieved in outdoor tests in Sydney, before being independently
confirmed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) at their outdoor
test facility in the United States. The work was funded by the Australian
Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and supported by the Australia-US Institute for
Advanced Photovoltaics (AUSIAPV).


“This
is the highest efficiency ever reported for sunlight conversion into
electricity,” UNSW Scientia Professor and Director of the Advanced Centre
for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP) Professor Martin Green said. “We used
commercial solar cells, but in a new way, so these efficiency improvements are
readily accessible to the solar industry,” added Dr Mark Keevers, the UNSW
solar scientist who managed the project. The 40% efficiency milestone is the
latest in a long line of achievements by UNSW solar researchers spanning four
decades. These include the first photovoltaic system to convert sunlight to
electricity with over 20% efficiency in 1989, with the new result doubling this
performance.

“The
new results are based on the use of focused sunlight, and are particularly
relevant to photovoltaic power towers being developed in Australia,”
Professor Green said. Power towers are being developed by Australian company,
RayGen Resources, which provided design and technical support for the high
efficiency prototype. Another partner in the research was Spectrolab, a
US-based company that provided some of the cells used in the project. A key
part of the prototype’s design is the use of a custom optical bandpass filter
to capture sunlight that is normally wasted by commercial solar cells on towers
and convert it to electricity at a higher efficiency than the solar cells
themselves ever could. Such filters reflect particular wavelengths of light while
transmitting others.

ARENA
CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the achievement is another world first for
Australian research and development and further demonstrates the value of
investing in Australia’s renewable energy ingenuity. “We hope to see this
home grown innovation take the next steps from prototyping to pilot scale
demonstrations. Ultimately, more efficient commercial solar plants will make
renewable energy cheaper, increasing its competitiveness.” The article is
published in Sciencedaily.

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