Solar Energy world record

Solar Energy world record

Australia’s solar researchers have converted a whopping 40% of sunlight into electricity making it the highest efficiency ever recorded by photovoltaic panels, breaking the solar energy world record.

“The power of the sun at the palm of my hand”

Solar panels or photovoltaic panels have been around for a surprisingly long time. Useful in remote locations or in space to convert light from the sun directly into electricity powering whatever device you desire. New research from university of New South Wales have now drastically increased the efficiency of these solar panels.

Sun Power Zenith: Solar Energy world record

The 40% efficiency achievement is outlined in a paper expected to be published soon by the Progress in Photovoltaics journal.

The record-breaking efficiency was achieved in an indoor test in Sydney before independently confirmed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) at their outdoor test facility in the United States.

The researchers used regular high-efficiency photovoltaic panels from Spectrolab, to reach their record-breaking figures but in a new way that’s possible for the solar industry to adopt today. This high-efficiency was achieved by focusing the sunlight using heliostat mirrors form the Australian company RayGen Resources.

A key part in this prototype is the custom optical bandpass filter. This filter captures “wasted sunlight” a normal complication in commercial solar farms with existing solar panels. The filters work by reflecting certain wavelengths of light which increases the effectiveness you capture others. This approach was what made the extremely high conversion rate possible.

Previous attempts to harness large amounts of energy uses mirrors to reflect sunlight at a central point. Here the sun rays hit water tanks that boils to drive a turbine, which generates electricity. The advantage of this new approach of only using photovoltaic panels is the reduced complexity. It’s easier to set up and install in both industry and domestic settings.

Breaking the solar energy world record is a nice first step toward a future where the planet is powered mostly by the sun. Just solve the problem of transferring this power to where people live and we can blanket the entire Sahara desert with these panels for unlimited power.

Image credit: Activ Solar via flickr.com, CC BY-SA 2.0

Get your own mega expensive solar panels right here=), or maybe something a little cheaper