US-based solar module company SunPower has apparently taken the first, second, and third spot in PHOTON International’s 2012 solar module yield test.
The company’s SPR-327NE-WHT-D module came in first place with an annual yield of 1,144.1kWh per kW. The performance ratio estimates 95.2% according to a theoretical approach of 1,202 kWh per kW output.
Two of the company’s other modules achieved performance ratio values of 94.9 and 94.8% respectively.
Chinese manufacturer Seraphim Solar System ranked fourth place with its SRP-220-6PB module, with a performance ratio of 93.6%.
Last year’s winner was the REC230AE module made by the Norwegian manufacturer Renewable Energy while this year the module came in 27th out of 151 modules tested.
REC’s module performance ratio has increased from 90.8% in 2011 to 91.4% in 2012 due to favourable weather conditions.
Overall, efficiency of solar modules seems to be improving. In 2012, 109 different modules tested better than in 2011. 72 solar module models received a performance ration over 90%.
SunPower has long been known for its high performance and efficiency. While SunPower modules aren’t as cheap as those of Chinese competitors Yingli, Suntech, and Trina (and many others), or of thin-film company First Solar, SunPower was #9 in solar module sales in 2012. There’s a reason for that, and it’s basically SunPower modules’ higher efficiency. (Their higher reliability and better performance in real-world conditions also don’t hurt, nor does the fact that the companyw as the first to offer a 25-year product and power warranty.)