Solar Cell Technology reaches a new world record

The sunlight to electricity 40% efficient barrier is broken by new solar cell.

An exciting world record has recently been achieved in converting sunlight to electricity performance. Alexandar Kasner for the Department of Energy has officially announced breakthrough news that the Boeing Spectrolab have produced a unique concentrator solar cell with the help of DOE funding that has broken the 40 percent conversion barrier with a record energy conversion of 40.7 percent. This fantastic achievement could make solar energy a much more cost effective choice of producing electricity and an important move towards solar energy becoming a major part of our nations energy supply.

This breakthrough is a fantastic achievement for the DOE and Solar Energy worldwide. Alexandar Karsner has said that the DOE is keen to see it implemented into the market place as soon as possible. It will certainly help towards increasing our nations energy security and reduce the need to rely on imported fuel.

Most of today's solar cell modules use 'one sun insolation' achieving only 12 18 percent conversation as this only uses the natural sources of light from the sun. The concentration of sunlight can be increased by using an optical concentrator as it squeezes more electricity out of every single solar cell. This ultimately achieves a 40 percent conversation giving us a new pathway for producing cost effective solar electricity.

To achieve the 40.7 percent breakthrough a cell structure called a multi junction solar cell was used. Inside this solar cell there are individual cells made up of layers that capture the sunlight so overall the whole cell then gets more useable energy from sunlight therefore achieving higher energy efficiency.

For 20 years researchers have been trying to achieve a higher efficient barrier than 40 percent. The DOE started researching multi-junction gallium arsenide based solar cell devices in the 1980's which had about a 16 percent conversion rate. The DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory reached a breakthrough of higher than 30% in 1994 which got the interest of researchers from the space industry. These multi-junction cells are used today by most satellites.

During his time as President, Mr George W Bush had a goal to have national acceptance of solar energy by 2015 which is now in focus by reaching 40 percent efficiency. His Initiative the Solar America Initiative hopes to have sufficient solar powered energy installations in place to provide power to up to 2 million homes at a cost of somewhere between 5 10 cents per KW/hour. The SAI is a key part of Mr Bush's AEI (Advanced Energy Initiative) plan to reduce our dependence on overseas oil sources by providing a 22 percent funding increase for development and research. The ultimate goal being to change from using foreign power to solar energy in our everyday lives, at work at home and for our cars.

For more information, visit the Solar America Initiative website at: http://www.eere.energy.gov/solar/solar_america/.