New Solar Cells Could Reduce Cost and Improve Efficiency

10/30/2017 |

Silicon-based multijunction solar cells can reach almost 36% efficiency

solar

Multijunction solar cells have the potential to provide an efficient and lower cost solar option than cells made only from rare earth and transition metals.

In a collaborative effort, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have proven higher potential of silicon-based multijunction solar cells in a recent paper appearing in Nature Energy.

The researchers developed tandem solar cells with record efficiencies of sunlight conversion into electricity under one-sun illumination. Cells made only from rare earth and transition metals (Groups III and V in the Periodic Table) show high efficiencies, but they are often much more expensive. Using silicon-based materials in these cells is a major step.

“This achievement is significant because it shows, for the first time, that silicon-based tandem cells can provide efficiencies competing with more expensive multijunction cells consisting entirely of III-V materials,” says Adele Tamboli, one of the NREL authors of the paper. “It opens the door to develop entirely new multijunction solar cell materials and architectures.”

The research team found that the highest dual-junction efficiency (32.8%) came from a tandem cell stacking a layer of gallium arsenide that NREL developed on top of a film of crystalline silicon by CSEM. In two other multijunction solar cells, the researchers achieved efficiencies of 32.5% and 35.9%.

The PV market is dominated by single-junction silicon solar cells, but their efficiencies range from 17-24%. Transitioning from silicon single-junction cells to silicon-based dual-junction solar cells will allow manufacturers to improve efficiency beyond 30% while still making use of expertise in making silicon solar cells. The main hurdle for their production is cost, as it will take manufacturers to fully embrace this technology for prices to drop.

Connectrac® wireways are the new standard for bringing power & communications cable management to all interior applications. Free yourself from core drilling!

Surpass State Energy Requirements with Dual-Cooling Data Center CRAC Technology

See how professionals like you are taking advantage of the highest performing precision cooling system for their computer rooms and data centers, and why Data Aire is fast-becoming the number one choice for facility managers and building owners looking to decrease their energy consumption. 

Data Aire understands how digital technology and data gravity is rapidly impacting and transforming businesses. That’s why they developed ultra-efficient cooling technology to support the most modern (and not-so-modern) data centers.  Learn how One Wilshire in Los Angeles, one of the most advanced carrier hotels today, is surpassing California's strict energy efficiency requirements with Data Aire’s purpose-built system, which provide full-economization for 260 days – almost 72% of the year. That’s a measurable savings! Furthermore, the projected PUE on an annual basis for a full load is at or below 1.2.

Connectrac® wireways are the new standard for bringing power & communications cable management to all interior applications. Free yourself from core drilling!

Surpass State Energy Requirements with Dual-Cooling Data Center CRAC Technology

See how professionals like you are taking advantage of the highest performing precision cooling system for their computer rooms and data centers, and why Data Aire is fast-becoming the number one choice for facility managers and building owners looking to decrease their energy consumption. 

Data Aire understands how digital technology and data gravity is rapidly impacting and transforming businesses. That’s why they developed ultra-efficient cooling technology to support the most modern (and not-so-modern) data centers.  Learn how One Wilshire in Los Angeles, one of the most advanced carrier hotels today, is surpassing California's strict energy efficiency requirements with Data Aire’s purpose-built system, which provide full-economization for 260 days – almost 72% of the year. That’s a measurable savings! Furthermore, the projected PUE on an annual basis for a full load is at or below 1.2.


Related Coverage