Scientists engineer concentrated photovoltaic solar cells that clock in around a conversion efficiency rate of 41.4%. Considering that most solar panels range between 20 and 30% efficiency this new system marks a significant milestone along the journey towards more sustainable energy.
The research group called CPV match announced last week that the new photovoltaic array has reached a conversion efficiency rate far surpassing any other known solar powered technique.
Concentrated photovoltaics follow the recent trend of miniaturizing solar panels and adding multiple junctions to what was previously just a single Junction design. That allowed them to use multiple semiconductor materials for each Junction, increasing the total possible range of light that can be absorbed by the panel.
The emerging field of concentrated solar power is based on using mirrors to concentrate light over-top of a small, focused area of space, therefor increasing the total possible yield. In this particular case scientists have come up with a unique hybrid concentrated, photovoltaic system that uses achromatic lenses to focus incoming sunlight through multiple layers of a semiconductor material.
This combination of techniques can reduce the total amount of surface area required while simultaneously increasing the amount of light that can be absorbed at the same time – which defines the most important distinction between concentrated photovoltaics and concentrated solar power as well as exactly why the new method is so powerful compared to it’s predecessors.
According to Dr Gerald Siefer, project head and group leader and the research at Fraunhofer ISE they have addressed all production steps for concentrator modules starting from the materials through cell fabrication and production systems and up to the challenges facing module manufacturing.
So now Fraunhofer is working on commercializing this technology for mainstream application.