A solar module prototype developed by SunPower has clocked a 20.4% efficiency in tests, confirmed by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). The 333W full-sized solar panel consists of 96 third-generation cells with a total panel area of 1.6m2. The prototype was funded the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under its Solar America Initiative (SAI), which was awarded to SunPower approximately two years ago.
Using the company’s technology, which yields cells that boast a minimum of 23% efficiency, the company used larger area cells cut from a 165mm diameter ingot. The prototype was also treated with an anti-reflective coating for maximum power generation.
The company expects to launch the new 20.4% efficiency module on the market within the next two years. SunPower has announced its intention to initiate a solar panel manufacturing facility in the U.S. utilising automated equipment designed and created using the SAI funding.
“SunPower has the engineering expertise and proven technology to accomplish this remarkable milestone in such a short period of time,” said Larry Kazmerski, executive director, science and technology partnerships at NREL. “My colleagues at the DOE and NREL had cautioned me that reaching a 20 percent solar panel was a stretch, but this did not dampen my optimism that it would happen. I congratulate SunPower and its team of talented engineers on realizing this accomplishment.”