SunPower Achieves New Efficiency Record

SunPower Corp. announced yesterday that it has produced another record-breaking solar panel with a 20.4 percent total area efficiency. The prototype was successfully developed using funds provided by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under its Solar America Initiative (SAI), which was awarded to SunPower approximately two years ago.

The new 96-cell, 333-watt solar panel is comprised of SunPower’s third generation solar cell technology that offers a minimum cell efficiency of 23 percent. In addition, the larger area cells are cut from a 165 mm diameter ingot and include an anti-reflective coating for maximum power generation. With a total panel area of 1.6 square meters, including the frame, SunPower’s 20.4 percent panel achieved the highest efficiency rating of a full sized solar panel and this rating was confirmed by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), an independent testing facility.

SunPower expects to make the 20.4 percent efficiency solar panel commercially available within the next 24 months. The company plans to begin operating a U.S. panel manufacturing facility in 2010 using automated equipment designed and commercialized with SAI funding.

SunPower recently announced the availability of the SunPower T5 Solar Roof Tile (T5), the first photovoltaic roof product to combine solar panel, frame and mounting system into a single pre-engineered unit. The T5 was also developed using research and development funds from the SAI.

“We are excited with the rapid pace in which we’ve been able to develop these advanced technologies,” said Bill Mulligan, SunPower’s vice president of technology and development. “Without the funding from the SAI, it would have taken us much longer to deliver both the world-record 96-cell solar panel and the innovative T5 Solar Roof Tile. We appreciate the DOE’s continued support of the solar energy industry.”

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