Multicrystalline solar panel efficiency reaches new heights

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A joint effort by two European groups has resulted in the world's most efficient multicrystalline solar panel

A joint effort by two European groups has resulted in the world’s most efficient multicrystalline solar panel, the groups announced this week.

Renewable Energy Corporation, a Norwegian solar panel manufacturer, partnered with the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands (ECN) to design and build the new multicrystalline technology. REC built the solar wafers and ECN constructed the solar cells and assembled the panels.

Their new panel achieved 17 percent conversion efficiency, narrowly beating the record of 16.4 percent efficiency for multicrystalline panels. The achievement “shows the enormous progress made in solar energy technology over the last few years,” said Martin Green, the chief editor of the journal Progress in Photovoltaics. Indeed, Sandia National Labs’ 15-year-old record for multicrystalline efficiency was only broken in August by Chinese solar company Suntech.

ECN managing director Ton Hoff suggested that the new technology is “industrially viable.”

Multicrystalline panels are desirable for end users because, unlike traditional monocrystalline panels, they aren’t constructed from a single sheet of silicon. That lowers their manufacturing cost and makes them cheaper for consumers. Monocrystalline panels are typically more efficient, but new technologies are helping to close that gap.

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