New record in solar energy conversion was set by a team of Australian researchers. The guys were able to achieve the incredible boost by using commercially available solar cells, only in a different way.
The announcement of the breakthrough came earlier this morning, when the team from University of New South Wales published the official numbers. They state that they can now convert as much as 40 percent of the incoming sunlight that hits the solar panels, when existing commercial methods have managed to convert not more than 33 percent.
The difference was made when the scientists led by Professor Martin Green, decided to split the light that hits the panels between four cells and not one, as it is currently done in practice. To do this, the team developed a prototype of a new technology, which was tested firstly in Sydney, and then replicated in the US’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
The results were conclusive. This is the highest efficiency for conversion of sunlight to electricity that has been achieved to date.
For now, the technology will only be used by the Australian company RayGen Resources on their solar power towers, which are equipped with sun-tracking mirrors that concentrate the light onto the tall structures. This, however, does not mean that the invention can only be used there and in such set-up. The makers are convinced that after a few tweaks and a bit more investment, it can be made suitable to use on rooftop solar panels too.
This new invention is the latest one to prove that solar is a serious contender in the battle against fossil fuels. The industry has great potential to overtake coal power generation. Such developments only come to show that solar can become the ultimate mean for low-cost renewable energy generation, and that could happen a lot sooner than we all think.
Image (c) UNSW