California solar firm SunPower Corporation has achieved a world record efficiency for a full-scale silicon solar cell.The cell was verified as 24.2% efficient at converting sunlight into electricity – confirmed by the US Department of Energy’s own National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
The company produced the cell at its manufacturing plant in the Philippines.
SunPower said improving the efficiency of solar power generation could reduce the effective costs of the technology by boosting the amount of energy generation that can be sold from solar equipment.
Effectively, making a more efficient solar cell reduces the cost per watt for the manufacturing process, installation and maintenance.
LeadBill Mulligan, vice president of technology and development for SunPower, said: “This new world record demonstrates SunPower’s ability to extend our lead in manufacturing the world’s highest efficiency solar cells. Our patented and proprietary, high-efficiency solar cell technology drives down the cost of solar energy by increasing the energy production from each solar panel.”
SunPower, which has its head office in San Jose, California, is celebrating its 25th year in business this year.
Dr Richard Swanson, founder and chief technology officer for the firm, said the technology being produced today was “inconceivable” even a few years ago.
He said: “SunPower’s research and development and engineering teams have increased cell efficiency by a full four percentage points over the last five years while radically driving down manufacturing costs. We are extremely proud of their continued success.”