Australian Team Pushed Solar Efficiency to World-Record 40%

solar-efficiency
Ryan Pollin for Zondits, December 10, 2014

A team of researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have reclaimed the world record for solar conversion efficiency using a blend of multiple technology approaches to achieve 40% overall efficiency. The system includes high-efficiency photovoltaic cells and a heliostat mirror configuration, better known as a power tower. UNSW has a long history with record-breaking solar systems, but what is unique about this iteration is their use of a customized optical bandpass filter. This filter rejects some wavelengths of light and in return gains high efficiencies on others. The bandpass filter was designed with the Australian sun in mind, but it does not pose significant complexity for today’s photovoltaic systems.

The team’s leader, Professor Martin Green, says the gains “are based on the use of focused sunlight, and are particularly relevant to photovoltaic power towers being developed in Australia.” Australian renewables have had a tough fight, with the central government favoring coal energy in policies. If UNSW’s latest innovation makes it to the commercial market, like Green hopes it will, the energy landscape will be that much more competitive.

Collaborators on the project included Australian power tower designer RayGen Resources, and US-based Spectrolab, a Boeing subsidiary who specialize in PV panels. The system is the feature of a paper that will be presented at the Australian PV Institute’s Asia-Pacific Solar Research Conference this week, and will then be published by the solar journal, Progress in Photovoltaics.

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UNSW researchers set world record in solar energy efficiency

UNSW, December 8, 2014

UNSW’s solar researchers have converted over 40% of the sunlight hitting a solar system into electricity, the highest efficiency ever reported.

The world-beating efficiency was achieved in outdoor tests in Sydney, before being independently confirmed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) at their outdoor test facility in the United States.

The work was funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and supported by the Australia–US Institute for Advanced Photovoltaics (AUSIAPV)

“This is the highest efficiency ever reported for sunlight conversion into electricity,” UNSW Scientia Professor and Director of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP) Professor Martin Green said.

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