In times when finding cheaper renewable energy sources is the essence of combating greenhouse gas emissions, solar companies are constantly introducing new techniques that lower the cost of solar while boosting the efficiency.
The competition on the market is fierce. The supply is much higher than the demand, making it even harder for small start-ups to face the already established dominant giants.
Alta Devices claims that they developed the product, which can put them ahead of the game. Earlier this week, the company announced that they achieved 30.8% efficiency of solar cells that can power mobile devices. Compared to traditional silicon cells, this increase is more than 10%.
Working with makers of mobile devices, the six-years old company gathered enough information to create exactly what is needed for extending battery life of the gadgets- the Alta solar cells.
The company has raised arounf $120 million from various investors including Kleiner Perkins, NEA and Dow Chemical. Their next goal is to make fast-charging solar cover for iPads by the end of this year, making the device independent from wall charging.
The record efficiency was achieved thanks to the materials gallium and arsenide. The company is now aiming to boost the efficiency even further to 38%. It still remains to be seen whether they will be able to achieve this. It will depend to a large extend on the manufacturing process and revenue.
Although Alta solar cells are more expensive than what is currently on the market, the makers are hoping to convince mobile device producers to invest in the new technology. In addition, the company is working on developing solar cells for various military applications.
The leaders on the solar market, however, do not just sit and watch. First Solar announced last week that they achieved a new record in efficiency of cadmium-telluride solar cells with nearly 2%.
Suppliers are also constantly making new materials that can help solar cell makers achieve their ultimate goals.