Solar panels are made up of dozens, hundreds of small solar cells or cells, which are what convert solar energy into electricity. Unfortunately the conversion is not complete, that is, only part of that light is transformed. It is what is called solar cell efficiency. And this week the record has been broken. NREL has manufactured the most efficient solar cell in the world. Converts 47.1% of the light it receives into electricity.
The United States National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has designed this ultra efficient solar cell. The previous record marked an efficiency of 46%.
As we say, the efficiency of a solar cell indicates what percentage of light is converted to electricity. In the 1970s, when the first solar panels began to be developed, depending on the type of panel, the efficiency varied between 5 and 20%. Between 1995 and 2010, only 2 or 3% was earned. But from 2010 until now, efficiency has increased more than 10%. We can see it in this graph, with different types of solar cells:
It must be said that this record of 47.1% efficiency has been achieved using light that is 143 times more powerful than that which comes from the Sun. But using standard sunlight it remains at 39.2%, which is still very high. And mirrors can be used to focus light and get closer to that 47.1%.
This new ultra efficient solar cell It’s formed by 6 different types of photoactive material layers, according to New Atlas. Each type of layer reacts with a different spectrum of sunlight, to make the most of it.
Total, 140 photosensitive layers that add up to a thickness less than that of a human hair. A record.
In this case not only efficiency is important, but the solar cell is extremely fine and small. It can be used on very light, reversible solar panels (with solar cells on each side), and very large, thanks to its thinness and low weight.
The longed for 50% efficiency is getting closer. A barrier that has taken almost 40 years to break.