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Crystalline silicon solar module efficiency: Top 10 solar panels

Solarplaza published a photovoltaics (PV) module manufacturer ranking for monocrystalline silicon solar cell technologies. Some of the heavyweights are there, but some didn't make the cut, making room for younger companies.

July 6, 2011 -- Solarplaza published a photovoltaics (PV) module manufacturer ranking for monocrystalline silicon solar cell technologies. The group lists the top 10 and top 50 most efficient solar cells.

Rank Manufacturer Module efficiency Module type
1 Sunpower
19.60% E19 / 320 SOLAR PANEL
19.50% PM318B00
3 Sanyo Electric
19.00% HIT-N240SE10
4 Crown Renewable Energy
18.30% Summit 100LM
5 JA Solar
16.84% JAM5(L)-72-215/SI
6 Trina Solar
16.40% TSM-210DC80
7 Jiawei
16.30% JW-S135
8 CNPV Solar
16.20% CNPV-105M
9 Yingli Solar 
16.20% Panda 265 Series
10 Jetion  
16.20% JT315SAc

*This table was first published on June 27, 2011 and was updated on July 5, 2011
Sunpower's solar module has the highest efficiency (19.6%). Sanyo's module is actually a combination of multi-crystalline silicon (mc-Si) and an amorphous silicon (a-Si) layer, creating the company's HIT technology.

The number 10 panel is 3.4% less efficient than number 1, which Solarplaza says could be the difference between a viable roof project or a low-yielding install. The difference between number 1 and number 50 is 4.9% (making number 10 only 1.5% more efficient than number 50). Higher efficiency panels can also mean lower BOS costs, says SolarPlaza, though this might not neccessarily offset higher panel costs, different warranties or incentive programs, etc.

However, a few disclaimers: The efficiency ranking does not take into account module cost or relative cost per Watt at peak power. Cost per produced solar kWh, which is the best measure of an installation's efficiency, cannot be measured. Results are based on standardized lab test conditions; some modules perform better in real life conditions. And as mentionned above, higher efficiency will not always offset higher panel cost.

While the top photovoltaics panel in this ranking comes from a US supplier (Sunpower), the company's products are made in the Philipines. Except for Crown Renewable Energy, all the other modules are from Asia.

Some of the better-known solar panel brands didn't make the top 10 (LG Solar just missed, coming in at number 11), ceding the spots to relatively young and unknown brands, says SolarPlaza, noting that high efficiency combined with smart pricing could grab these new players market share. Some of the major players showing up in the top 50 rankings include Jinko Solar, Hanwha SolarOne, and Siliken, proving that efficiency isn't everything when it comes to customer wins.

See the full top-10 and the link to the complete top-50 here:

Solarplaza provides information and tradeshows related to solar energy. Web site:

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