You know we’re getting somewhere when record-shattering solar power efficiency marks are popping up faster than zombies at your local Comic Con, so let’s hear it for the California-based innovator Amonix, which has been setting records practically…
Updated several times, last time being March 21, 2015, in order to update the efficiency records.
One of the most common things people ask when they start to consider going solar or start to plan their life-changing solar expedition is which are the most efficient solar panels. However, first of all, that’s not even the right question for most people, and second of all, the literal answer to that question really isn’t relevant for the average consumer. Let me explain….
First of all, the important matter is not which solar panels are most efficient, but which solar panels are the best value for the money. If you’ve got space for 10 solar panels on your roof and you have an option between solar panels “ABEfficient” that are a bit more efficient but twice the price of solar panels “CDCheap,” chances are, you are going to make a much bigger savings by going with CDCheap. Of course, the important thing would be to see what’s available in your situation and simply run the numbers (or, if you are allergic to math, have a friend who can do math run the numbers for you).
But, anyway, if you really want to know which are the most efficient solar panels (or solar cells) out there, I actually happened to be putting together a list of solar records recently and can give you the rundown. But, as I do so, I’ll drop in a few key notes making the point above a bit clearer. Before looking at solar panels as a whole, let’s have a quick look at the producers of some of the most efficient solar cells (the key component of solar panels) and their efficiency records:
- 46% efficient solar cells by Soitec & Fraunhofer Institute. Notably, these world-leading solar cells from Soitec and Fraunhofer Institute are in the concentrator quadruple-junction solar cell category. Such solar cells are complicated and are not used in residential or commercial applications… because they are bloody expensive. They are used in space applications by the likes of NASA, where a bit of extra space (or, as it may be, less space via extra efficiency) can make a huge difference.
- 44.4% efficient solar cells by Sharp previously held the overall efficiency record. However, they still hold the record for triple-junction (concentrator) solar cells.
- 37.9% efficient solar cells by Sharp. A big step down, these are in the triple-junction, non-concentrator solar cell category. If this is all new to you, it might take you awhile to see the difference in the categories. The difference is that these solar cells don’t use anything to concentrate the light hitting the solar cells, while the 44.4% efficiency cells noted above do use something to concentrate the light (of course, adding to their costs).
- 32.6% solar cells by a Spanish solar research institute (IES) and university (UPM). These are another step down, as they are in the two-junction, concentrator solar cell category. (For an intro on “junctions,” by the way, check out this multi-junction photovoltaic cell article on Wikipedia.) Again, these are still far different solar cells from what are used in commercial or residential installations.
- There are about a dozen or so extra categories that I could run down. Some categories have very high efficiencies but the solar cells are quite expensive, while others are actually on the other end of the spectrum (no pun intended) and are very cheap but have very low efficiency. Of course, some are both inefficient and expensive, but apparently worth researching nonetheless. The key, as I noted earlier, is finding the best balance between cost and efficiency.
Need some solar energy facts or solar power facts? This page is aimed at becoming the best go-to source on the web for solar facts… if it isn’t already. The solar facts below are succinct and organized by categories and subcategories. To help improve the page, please feel free to add any solar facts you are aware of in the comments below… or correct ours if we’ve got any wrong. If you do either of those things, just be sure to include a link to a reliable source — we want to be very careful here to check the facts before publishing them. Cool? Cool.
Solar Energy Facts / Solar Power Facts Table Of Contents
The main categories below are:
— Solar Records
- Solar Cell Efficiency Records
- Solar Module Efficiency Records
- Largest Solar Power Plants
- Solar Market Leaders
- Solar Vehicles
— Solar Policies
- Feed-in Tariffs
- Net Metering
- Value of Solar Tariffs
- Renewable Energy Standards (RES) / Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) / Renewable Obligation
- PACE Financing
- Solar Mandates
- Rebates, Tax Credits, Grants, & Loans
- More Info, More Policies?
— How Solar PV Works
— Chime In!
Now, on to the solar energy and solar power facts!!
Solar Cell Efficiency Records
- Overall world solar cell efficiency record (also the concentrator triple-junction solar cell efficiency record) — 44.7% (Fraunhofer ISE)
- Triple-junction, non-concentrator solar cell efficiency record — 37.9% (Sharp)
- Two-junction, concentrator solar cell efficiency record — 32.6% (IES–UPM)
- Two-junction solar cell conversion efficiency record under one sun of illumination — 31.1% (NREL)
- Single-junction, concentrator solar cell efficiency record — 29.1% (FhG–ISE)
- Single-junction, GaAs, thin-film crystal solar cell efficiency record — 28.8% (Alta Devices)
- Crystalline silicon solar cell efficiency record — 25.6% (Panasonic)
- Amorphous and monocrystalline silicon solar cell efficiency record — 21.4% (EPFL Institute of Microengineering)
- P-type mono-crystalline silicon solar cell efficiency record — 21.4% (Trina Solar)
- Thin-film solar cell efficiency record (CdTe) — 21% (First Solar)
- CIS thin-film solar cell efficiency record — 20.9% (Solar Frontier)
- CIGS thin-film solar cell efficiency record — 20.8% (Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg — ZSW)
- P-type multi-crystalline silicon solar cell efficiency record — 20.5% (Trina Solar)
- Black silicon solar cell efficiency record — 18.7% (Fraunhofer ISE & Aalto University)
- CZTS solar cell efficiency record — 12.6% (Solar Frontier, IBM, & TOK)
- Single-junction microcrystalline silicon solar cell efficiency record — 10.7% (EPFL Institute of Microengineering)
- Plasmonic polymer solar cell efficiency record — 8.92% (Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology)
- Graphene solar cell efficiency record — 8.6% (University of Florida)
Solar Module Efficiency Records
- Overall solar PV module efficiency record (also the CPV module efficiency record) — 36.7% (Fraunhofer ISE)
- Outdoor solar PV (and CPV) module efficiency record — 34.9% (Amonix)
- Commercial CPV module efficiency record — 31.8% (Soitec)
- Commercial solar module efficiency record — 21.5% (SunPower)
- Leading solar modules in solar module yield field tests — SunPower SPR-327NE-WHT-D modules
- Thin-film solar module aperture efficiency record — 17.4% (Q-Cells)
- Cadmium-telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) module conversion efficiency record — 16.1% (First Solar)
- CIGS thin-film solar module efficiency record — 15.7% (Samsung)
- Flexible PV solar module efficiency record — 15.5% (MiaSolé)
- Monolithically integrated, commercially available CIGS module efficiency record — 13.4% (Stion) (also holds the 14.8% aperture efficiency record for such modules) and 13.4% (SoloPower)
Largest Solar Power Plants
- Largest “collection” of solar power plants: 600 MW — Gujarat Solar Park
- Largest solar power plant under construction: 579 MW — Antelope Valley Solar Project
- Largest solar PV power plant completed: 550 MW — Topaz Solar Farm
- Largest concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) plant under construction: 392 MW — Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System
- Largest single-unit CSP plant completed: 100 MW — Shams 1
- Largest concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) solar power plant: 37 MW — Alamosa Solar Generating Project
Solar Market Leaders
- Solar Power (MW) Per Million People (End of 2012): 398.63 — Germany
- New Solar Power (MW) Per Million People In 2012: 108.98 — Bulgaria
- Solar Power (MW) Per $1 Billion GDP (End of 2012): 17.8 — Bulgaria
- New Solar Power (MW) Per $1 Billion GDP In 2012: 15.03 — Bulgaria
- Solar Peak Power Output Record: 22.68 GW — Germany
- Single-Year Solar Power Installation Record: 7.6 GW — Germany
- Solar Power (W) Per Capita (End of 2012): 166.9 — Arizona
- New Solar Power (W) Per Capita In 2012: 108.39 — Arizona
Module Manufacturers & Developers
- #1 solar module manufacturer (2012) — Yingli Green Energy
- #1 utility-scale solar developer in world — First Solar
- #1 EPC solar contractor in the world — First Solar
Amonix Inc. is no stranger to setting peak efficiency records with its concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) solar power systems. As a matter of fact, it just set a new record that successfully converted more than 36% of direct sunlight into electricity. This new achievement breaks the old record Amonix established in May 2012 of 34.2% peak efficiency.
Amonix has been the leading designer and manufacturer of concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) solar power systems for quite some time. This result continues Amonix’s long history of leading the world in solar module efficiency, having been the first to convert over ⅓ of the sun’s energy in May 2012, and the first to break 30% module efficiency in 2011.
Amonix’s latest-generation CPV technology started in late February with outdoor testing, and ran until April of this year. The results from this period showed a peak operating efficiency of 36.2% measured on March 14, 2013, with a DNI of 876 W/m2, an ambient temperature of 16°C and instantaneous wind speed of 1 m/s.