SunPower has consistently been a leader in solar power efficiency and today (June 27) it announced that once again it holds the world record for the most efficient silicon-based solar panel. Earlier this year the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) verified that a SunPower X-Series solar panel reached 24.1 percent efficiency.
That’s nearly 1.5 percent more efficient than the previous record holder in that category, Panasonic, which produced a 22.5 percent efficient silicon panel. It’s also more efficient than the promised efficiency of SolarCity’s panels, which were expected to be at 22.04 percent efficiency when they’re introduced.
"SunPower's X-Series panel was tested by our lab under standard test or reporting conditions," said NREL scientist Keith Emery, manager of the PV cell and module performance laboratory. "The module measured 11310.1 cm2 (aperture area) and had a power of 272.5 Watts. We recorded 24.1 percent efficiency, which is a new record for silicon module efficiency."
A 1.4 percent efficiency boost might seem small, but it’s still big for an industry that marks delineations in 10ths of a percent. ”With greater efficiency, we can fit more watts on the roof," asserted Peter Cousins, SunPower senior vice president, research, development and deployment.
That means they take up less space—both on roofs or in large solar power projects, which can span hundreds—if not thousands—of acres. To put it another way, the company said it’s X-Series solar panels can produce up to 70 percent more energy than a 15 to 18 percent efficient solar panel during their first 25 years of operation.
While the panel is currently the most efficient silicon panel NREL has tested it doesn’t mean all of SunPower’s solar panels are now that efficient. The company explained that the panel was made out of SunPower laboratory cells that were over 25 percent efficient. But in a blog on the company’s site, SunPower said it thinks that with new cell designs it will reach efficiencies of more than 26 percent in lab testing.
SunPower said it’s currently manufacturing solar panels that are verified at 22.8 percent efficiency, which is still a record efficiency for commercially available solar panels. Those higher efficiencies in the test cases will likely continue to reach the public as solar power advances.Tweet