NREL Verifies Record Solar Cell Efficiency

SunPower announced that its A-300 silicon solar cell was measured at 21.5 percent efficiency by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado. The company said this efficiency result is a world record for large-area (five-inch) silicon solar cells.

Sunnyvale, California – March 3, 2004 [] SunPower’s A-300 solar cell was manufactured in the company’s Round Rock, Texas pilot line. The company said their A-300 solar cells offer a significant efficiency improvement over currently available cells in the 12 to 15 percent range. Part of this, the company said, is because the A-300 solar cells utilize a unique back-side contact design that maximizes working cell area, hides unsightly connection wires and enables high-speed automated module production. “SunPower’s advancements in developing highly-efficient solar cells and modules are commendable,” said Richard King, team leader for Photovoltaic R&D at the Department of Energy. “The achievement of a 21.5 percent efficient solar cell demonstrates that SunPower’s unique back-side contact technology can be utilized to manufacture cost-effective products that improve the versatility of solar-electric power systems.” “This efficiency world record constitutes an important milestone for SunPower and confirms the significant performance advantage of our product,” said Tom Werner, SunPower CEO. “This achievement demonstrates that SunPower’s leading-edge technology can be successfully implemented in a high-volume production process. The A-300 product allows us to offer our customers a combination of exceptional performance and competitive cost.” Unlike conventional solar cells, SunPower’s A-300 incorporates all electrical contacts on the back surface. SunPower said this architecture allows for significantly higher conversion efficiency of light to electricity, and also eliminates unsightly reflective front-side contacts. With rated efficiency greater than 20 percent, the A-300 can deliver up to 50 percent more energy from a given roof area than traditional solar products, SunPower said. The 125-mm, single-crystal A-300 cell generates three watts of electricity, providing the most efficient cost-per-watt solution in the photovoltaic (PV) industry, said SunPower, adding that these cells can deliver more kilowatts per square meter, making these cells ideal for rooftop systems, communications, building-integrated PV systems and consumer applications. The A-300 will be available in production quantities in the second half of 2004 from SunPower’s new manufacturing facility in the Philippines.
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