Record sunlight-to-electricity conversion broaden horizons for PV power towers

Record sunlight-to-electricity conversion broaden horizons for PV power towers

Researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have reported converting more than 40 per cent of the sunlight hitting a solar panel system into electricity, the highest efficiency ever recorded.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) independently confirmed the result at its outdoor test facility in the US.

“We used commercial solar cells, but in a new way, so these efficiency improvements are readily accessible to the solar industry,” project manager Dr Mark Keevers said.

The team used a custom optical bandpass filter to capture sunlight normally wasted by commercial solar cells on towers and converted it to electricity at a higher efficiency than the solar cells themselves could manage.

The results are based on the use of focused sunlight and are particularly relevant to PV power towers being developed in Australia.

The work was supported by the Australia-US Institute for Advanced Photovoltaics (AUSIAPV), which hopes to see the innovation taken the next steps from prototyping to pilot scale demonstrations.

UNSW researchers were responsible for the first PV system to convert sunlight to electricity with more than 20 per cent efficiency in 1989.