suntech increases solar cell efficiency
Today, Suntech a Chinese solar panel manufacturer released news about their next generation solar cell technology called Pluto which has efficiencies of 19% (monocrystalline) and 17% (polycrystalline). Suntech sent the Pluto based solar cells to Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, which independently tested the the solar cells and verified the efficiency ratings. Currently, suntech solar panels out on the market have solar cells that have efficiencies of 16.5% and 15.5% respectively.
It seems like Suntech is trying to catch up with the higher efficiency solar panels such as the Sanyo and SunPower solar panels. Although you have to take into consideration that solar cell efficiency is not the same as solar panel efficiency. Since a group of solar cells make up a solar panel, when solar cells are wired together, they lose efficiency. Currently Sanyo 200w solar panels are 17% efficient at the solar panel level. Also the temperature coefficient (how well the solar panel perform in hot temperatures) determine how many kWh (kilowatt-hours) you will produce per year.
Even though Suntech Pluto solar cell technology is getting better, it’s far from being the best on the market. Currently, I would say Sanyo solar panels are the best on the market, since of their high efficiencies at the solar panel level and their better performance in hot weather, they peform very well in real world conditions. These efficiency tests Suntech did in the lab are not going to be as good in the real world. What do you think about Suntech solar panels?