Double solar world record

Jul 07, 2011
Double solar world record
diagram of an LDSE cell

(PhysOrg.com) -- A world record double by UNSW solar cell researchers promises to make solar power more affordable, with world-beating new technology delivering substantial efficiency gains at minimal extra cost.

Using a patented laser process, researchers from UNSW’s Photovoltaics Technology Transfer Team, working with solar technology firm Centrotherm, achieved a new world benchmark of 19.3 percent efficiency in May for a mass-produced, crystalline silicon solar cell. They improved that result in June to advance the record to 19.4 per cent.

The previous record for cells created with this process was 18.9 per cent.

The new cells compare favourably with the 18 per cent-efficient cells commonly used in rooftop solar panels.

Dr Matt Edwards, Program Manager of the Photovoltaics Technology Transfer Team in the UNSW School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering, said the records were achieved without exotic materials or equipment.

"The exciting aspect of these records is that we achieved these results in a short time, using an industry-standard silicon wafer and modified industry-standard equipment," he said.

"It’s another step closer to costing the same as coal-fired electricity."

Dr Edwards said the gains, achieved on a standard p-type CZ silicon wafer, had produced a low-cost cell which delivered "the best bang for your buck" of any mass-produced cell in the world.

The record-breaking cells were produced using UNSW’s patented Laser Doped Selective Emitter (LDSE) process, which uses a high-powered laser and a light-induced plating process to create ultra-fine metal contacts on the cell surface, leaving more area exposed to light to create more power.

One of the advantages of LDSE technology is its ability to boost cell efficiency with simple modifications to existing screen-printed solar cell production lines – the most common mass-production systems in use today. The process is already in pilot production at some facilities.

Dr Edwards said the group was now working on a , double-sided LDSE (D-LDSE), which optimises both the front and rear surfaces of a solar cell to deliver efficiencies of up to 22 per cent.

The new 19.4 per cent efficiency record was verified by the Fraunhofer ISE Solar Cell Calibration Laboratory and a paper detailing the work will be published in the inaugural edition of the Journal of Photovoltaics.

Explore further: Ambitious EU targets for renewable energies make economic sense

Related Stories

43 percent: New solar power world record

Aug 27, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Australian and US solar cell researchers have achieved the highest efficiency for solar power, setting a new world record of 43 per cent of sunlight converted into electricity.

Nanostructures improve solar cell efficiency

May 26, 2011

To make solar cells a competitive alternative to other renewable energy sources, researchers are investigating different alternatives. A step in the right direction is through new processes that change the ...

Honda to Mass Produce Next-Generation Thin Film Solar Cell

Dec 19, 2005

Honda announced its plan to begin mass production in 2007, of an independently developed thin film solar cell composed of non-silicon compound materials, which requires 50% less energy, and thus generate 50% less CO2, during ...

Recommended for you

Should the Japanese give nuclear power another chance?

Oct 24, 2014

On September 9, 2014, the Japan Times reported an increasing number of suicides coming from the survivors of the March 2011 disaster. In Minami Soma Hospital, which is located 23 km away from the power plant, ...

UK wind power share shows record rise

Oct 24, 2014

The United Kingdom wind power production has been enjoying an upward trajectory, and on Tuesday wind power achieved a significant energy production milestone, reported Brooks Hays for UPI. High winds from Hurricane Gonzalo were the force behind wind turbines outproducing nuclear power ...

Global boom in hydropower expected this decade

Oct 24, 2014

An unprecedented boom in hydropower dam construction is underway, primarily in developing countries and emerging economies. While this is expected to double the global electricity production from hydropower, it could reduce ...

User comments : 24

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

gwrede
2.7 / 5 (7) Jul 07, 2011
Counting the average rate of absolutely astounding solar-cell development news published here per month, one would think we will hit 110% efficiency in a year.

(And yes, I know my math, and still wrote 110% here.)
hyongx
not rated yet Jul 07, 2011
Haven't silicon-based PVD in the lab seen ~40% efficiency? and haven't some CNT-based PVs from MIT seen like 100% quantum (capture) efficiency (does not imply that efficient electron transport)?
maybe i just made that up. I guess the key here is "mass produced"
Moebius
2.7 / 5 (7) Jul 07, 2011
...promises to make solar power more affordable, with world-beating new technology delivering substantial efficiency gains at minimal extra cost.

How many times have we heard this?
ForFreeMinds
3 / 5 (10) Jul 07, 2011
A change in efficiency from 18.9% to 19.4% is only an improvement of 2.6%. They've got a long way to go to make solar competitive with fossil fuels or even nuclear. But at least there's a place for solar cells (away from the grid) and I welcome future improvements. They've a long way to go.
Isaacsname
not rated yet Jul 07, 2011
I brought up this idea to my 9th grade science teacher, over 20 years ago, was told it was a ridiculous idea.
david_42
1 / 5 (2) Jul 07, 2011
Whatever. You'll still need huge amounts of space and backup generators or massive amounts of power storage. It's great in certain applications, but not useful for base generation.
dirk_bruere
4 / 5 (1) Jul 07, 2011
Solar PV is already competitive with domestic mains prices in S Europe *without* subsidies.
ricarguy
2.3 / 5 (6) Jul 07, 2011
Solar PV is already competitive with domestic mains prices in S Europe *without* subsidies.


They must be paying a hell of a lot more than we do in most of the U.S.
Subsidies => artificially cheaper for the "chosen" technology,
Taxes => artificially more expensive for the "anti-chosen" technology.
Gov't manipulation is still gov't manipulation for either side.
braindead
3.5 / 5 (6) Jul 07, 2011
"They must be paying a hell of a lot more than we do in most of the U.S. " - that's because you pay far too little for your power with the consequence of contributing to messing up the planet way beyond your borders.
ScienceLust
1.5 / 5 (8) Jul 07, 2011
Cover your roof with them and you still won't have enough power to power your toaster.Am I right? It seems solar power
sounds great enough that it can make science news without makeing signifagant inprovement.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.6 / 5 (38) Jul 08, 2011
"How many times have we heard this?" - Mobeius

Weekly at least.

And solar cell prices continue to fall, in part, due to the developments you read about here.

Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (42) Jul 08, 2011
"Cover your roof with them and you still won't have enough power to power your toaster.Am I right?" - ScienceTard

Depends on the size and orientation of your roof. But lets take a 10 meter by 5 meter roof as a typical size.

Total roof area 50 square meters, total solar energy available comes in at about 70000 Watts.

At 15% conversion efficiency you get 10,500 Watts.

A toaster uses around 2,000 watts.

You should really learn how to add, subtract, multiply and divide. It comes in handy some times.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.3 / 5 (38) Jul 08, 2011
"It's great in certain applications, but not useful for base generation." - Tard of Tards

Actually solar and wind are best for base load with gas turbines in the gaps.

ricarguy
1 / 5 (7) Jul 08, 2011
Mr. "Braindead",
Your "holier than thou" stance makes me smile, if not laugh. You can pay all you want. In fact you should be even better yet and give extra.
I believe society is best served by paying for what things actually cost, not what some central planner says it should. You or I eating or breathing has impact beyond our borders.
I am sorry to say, you are brain-washed.

Mr. Vendicar:
If you would like your "electricity rates to necessarily sky-rocket", then go for it. Please leave mine alone. When I see a charity or cause worthy of my money, I give it at my discretion, not someone else's.
ricarguy
1.1 / 5 (9) Jul 08, 2011
It is ironic regarding those that tout evolution and survival of the fittest and reject the concept or possibility of God or intelligent design. Those are the same people who tend to reject free markets and capitalism (which is merely economic evolution and survival of the fittest) in favor of central planning. Your favored philosophy/theory is rejected when applied to your own lives.

Back to topic:
Solar and wind have a place but as a general rule should not be favored to take over until the overall cost, including time and event independent implementation, is reduced. Progress is being made, but not ready for prime time yet. Until then, keep up the good work.
lovenugget
5 / 5 (2) Jul 08, 2011
"Those are the same people who tend to reject free markets and capitalism (which is merely economic evolution and survival of the fittest) in favor of central planning. Your favored philosophy/theory is rejected when applied to your own lives."

You're naively trying to compare two very different things. Biological evolution is based on hard science and the effect of physical law on life over time. Capitalism is an invention based on inflating currency and infinite growth. Infinite growth is not possible without a serious impact on the enviornment- not to mention the price of food in third world countries where there is a serious risk of starvation... The ultimate goal should be survival for all, not just the wealthiest. Your attempt to force a square block into a circular hole is apparent. Please try again.
ScienceLust
not rated yet Jul 08, 2011
Vendicar Decarian, aka: Scott Nudds, Thanks for the 4th grade math help.I feel enlightend. My solar panels stop working every night.Could you talk to them at night,That is I mean enlighten them when it is dark out. I am on your side about not useing coal for our energy needs.I just tried photovolatic before you.
tarheelchief
not rated yet Jul 08, 2011
Scotland has created a new solar system which connects large solar panels and salt storage batteries.Since sunlight is precious during the winter months,this option of solar battery power proves to be a solution.
It might be helpful if solar power is connected to a nearby industrial plant or better,a desal plant like San Diego.This way both parties are closely tied to long term financing.
Husky
not rated yet Jul 09, 2011
they need to come up with stronger interlocking solar tiles providing structural support so that you dont place solar cells on the roof, but that the solar cells ARE the roof, this way you could offset costs from putting a roof on newly build homes, especially with the more expensive fancy roofs, like geodesic domes, the more expensive solar roofing tiles * might * (big if here) beat the price of roofing puttting seperate solarcells on it integral solution looking more estethic for sure
Isaacsname
not rated yet Jul 09, 2011
they need to come up with stronger interlocking solar tiles providing structural support so that you dont place solar cells on the roof, but that the solar cells ARE the roof, this way you could offset costs from putting a roof on newly build homes, especially with the more expensive fancy roofs, like geodesic domes, the more expensive solar roofing tiles * might * (big if here) beat the price of roofing puttting seperate solarcells on it integral solution looking more estethic for sure

Well put. Modern design should be moderated by the need for improved efficiency, not just pure profit. I don't think we need to " get more " energy as much as we need to rethink how much we do need, and why we waste so much of what we already produce.
wwqq
2 / 5 (2) Jul 09, 2011
A change in efficiency from 18.9% to 19.4% is only an improvement of 2.6%. They've got a long way to go to make solar competitive with fossil fuels or even nuclear.


Solar doesn't compete with coal or nuclear in any meaningful way. Think of solar as a way to supplement natural gas, diesel and hydro.

If you want solar to do anything more than that it will be very expensive even if solar panels are available for free.
antialias
not rated yet Jul 11, 2011
It's great in certain applications, but not useful for base generation.
Actually a live test with a highly distributed combiation of wind, solar, hydro, biomass and gas power in germany showed that you can deliver base loads at competitive prices all year round. And that *without* any dedicated storage systems beyond what is usually available (i.e. some hydro for extreme short term fluctuations).

The 'you need coal/oil/nuclear backup facilities for base loads'-argument is just a myth that won't die.
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Jul 11, 2011
a live test with a highly distributed combiation of wind, solar, hydro, biomass and gas power in germany showed that you can deliver base loads at competitive prices all year round. And that *without* any dedicated storage systems beyond what is usually available (i.e. some hydro for extreme short term fluctuations).


It depends on what you mean by base load, and what is the scale of the system, and what you mean by "usually available".

When you have capacities that amount to approximately a mosquito's fart in a lavatory, you can calculate that it produces on average such and such amount of power and you didn't need any special measures for it because the grid as a whole didn't even notice it was there.

Besides, gas power is a fossil fuel, and I bet they ran the system on gas most of the time, just like in Denmark where they have ample wind, but in practice just burn gas all the time and export the wind power to Norway.
antialias
not rated yet Jul 12, 2011
It depends on what you mean by base load, and what is the scale of the system, and what you mean by "usually available".

By base load I mean that the 11000 homes which were part of the test did not have to draw a single Watt from fossil fuel or nuclear power plants for the duration of the test (which went on longer than a year). Can't get much more 'base load' than that.

That the grid needs to be modified is a known fact. But that isn't really something that is impossible (or even very difficult).

Tha gas power was from biomass and garbage fired powerplants (One might argue that some garbage would count as fossil fuels but that was only a very small percentage of the network used. Biomass could probably take up that slack with a different mix).

For emergency use I can see that conventional gas powerplants will still be useful as backup in the future as they are much more responsive than coal (and especially nuclear which needs a week to get up to speed)