Large photovoltaic cells break efficiency record

March 24, 2017 //By Nick Flaherty
Kaneka solar panel
Researchers in Japan have built large photovoltaic cells with conversion efficiency above 26%, breaking the current record and driving a path to the theoretical maximum of 29%.

Improving the photoconversion efficiency of silicon solar cells is crucial to further the deployment of renewable electricity. Essential device properties such as lifetime, series resistance and optical properties must be improved simultaneously to reduce recombination, resistive and optical losses.

The team from the Photovoltaic & Thin Film Device Research Laboratories of Kaneka in Osaka used industrially compatible processes to build large-area silicon solar cells combining interdigitated back contacts and an amorphous silicon/crystalline silicon heterojunction. The photoconversion efficiency is over 26% with a 180.4 cm 2, which is an improvement of 2.7% relative to the previous record efficiency of 25.6%. The cell builds on work released in September last year and was analysed to characterize lifetime, quantum efficiency, and series resistance, with the results reported in Nature this week.   

A loss analysis by the team pinpoints a path to approach the theoretical conversion efficiency limit of silcon solar cells, 29.1%.

kaneka is working with the NEDO Japanese government office to develop solar cell technology for reducing cost and improving performance and reliability to achieve the power generation costs of 14 yen/kWh (€0.115) in 2020 and 7 yen/kWh (€0.0575) in 2030. 

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