SunPower Corp., a Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of high-efficiencysolar cells, solar panels and solar systems, announced today that ithas produced a world-record, full-sized solar panel with a 20.4 percenttotal area efficiency.
The prototype was successfullydeveloped using funds provided by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)under its Solar America Initiative (SAI), which was awarded to SunPowerapproximately two years ago.
The new 96-cell, 333-watt solarpanel is comprised of SunPower’s third generation solar cell technologythat offers a minimum cell efficiency of 23 percent. In addition, thelarger area cells are cut from a 165 mm diameter ingot and include ananti-reflective coating for maximum power generation.
With atotal panel area of 1.6 square meters, including the frame, SunPower’s20.4 percent panel achieved the highest efficiency rating of a fullsized solar panel and this rating was confirmed by the NationalRenewable Energy Lab (NREL), an independent testing facility.
"SunPowerhas the engineering expertise and proven technology to accomplish thisremarkable milestone in such a short period of time," said LarryKazmerski, executive director, science and technology partnerships,located at NREL. "My colleagues at the DOE and NREL had cautioned methat reaching a 20 percent solar panel was a stretch, but this did notdampen my optimism that it would happen. I congratulate SunPower andits team of talented engineers on realizing this accomplishment."
SunPowerexpects to make the 20.4 percent efficiency solar panel commerciallyavailable within the next 24 months. The company plans to beginoperating a US panel manufacturing facility in 2010 using automatedequipment designed and commercialized with SAI funding.
SunPowerrecently announced the availability of the SunPower T5 Solar Roof Tile(T5), the first photovoltaic roof product to combine solar panel, frameand mounting system into a single pre-engineered unit. The T5 was alsodeveloped using research and development funds from the SAI.
"Weare excited with the rapid pace in which we’ve been able to developthese advanced technologies," said Bill Mulligan, SunPower’s vicepresident of technology and development. "Without the funding from theSAI, it would have taken us much longer to deliver both theworld-record 96-cell solar panel and the innovative T5 Solar Roof Tile.We appreciate the DOE’s continued support of the solar energy industry."
TheSolar America Initiative is focused on accelerating widespreadcommercialization of clean solar energy technologies by 2015 and toprovide the US additional electricity supply options while reducingdependence on fossil fuels and improving the environment.
Itaims to achieve market competitiveness for solar electric power throughgovernment partnerships with industry, universities, nationallaboratories, states, and other public entities by funding new researchand development activities.