First, the good news. The cell demonstrates that SunPower continues to be able to increase the efficiency of its products. It now sells modules containing solar cells exhibiting a 22 percent efficiency. (Module efficiency is lower than cell efficiency but higher efficiency cells directly lead to higher efficiency modules.) Later this year, it will begin to commercially produce solar cells with 23.4 percent efficiencies. SunPower produces monocrystalline silicon solar cells, which are generally higher in efficiency than multicrystalline silicon cells. The new record cell was produced on the same basic technology SunPower uses in its production line today.
Others have had trouble keeping up with SunPower. Suntech Power Holdings out of China announced the high efficiency line of Pluto cells and modules a few years ago to close the efficiency gap with SunPower. Earlier this month, however, Suntech admitted it was having troubles producing Pluto cells in volume. As a result, the company will keep Pluto production at the 4 megawatts a month level for now. Earlier, it had hoped to increase production to 450 megawatts a year by the end of 2010.
SAN JOSE, Calif., June 23 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- SunPower Corp. (Nasdaq: SPWRA, SPWRB), a Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar systems, announced today that it has produced a full-scale solar cell with a sunlight to electricity conversion efficiency of 24.2 percent at its manufacturing plant in the Philippines. This is a new world record, confirmed by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), for large area silicon wafers.