cleantech insights

Dear SunPower: I am (almost) impressed

David Hague

Recently SunPower announced it broke the record for solar cell efficiency for a large area silicon wafers. NREL certified the SunPower cell at 24.2%.  I anxiously pulled up one of my favorite solargeek charts, NREL’s “Best Research-Cell Efficiencies” to plot SunPower’s accomplishment.

The key term in the title of this chart is “Research-Cell.” By definition a research cell is typically a “one off” and small (on the order of 1cm2). Researchers at University of South Wales still hold the record for single crystal silicon cells (aka monocrystalline) at 24.7%. SunPower’s announced “a full-scale solar cell” that is a certified record holder for “large area silicon wafers.”

SunPower, you overcame one challenge, making a large cell. This is impressive. I look forward to removing “almost” from my post when you announce a new product line manufactured at scale with a 24+% efficiency OR you announce a research 24.8+% research cell.