A concentrator solar cell produced by Boeing-Spectrolab has recently achieved a world-record conversion efficiency of 40.7 percent, establishing a new milestone in sunlight-to-electricity performance.
This breakthrough may lead to systems with an installation cost of only $3 per watt, producing electricity at a cost of 8-10 cents per kilowatt/hour, making solar electricity a more cost-competitive and integral part of the world’s energy mix.
Attaining a 40 percent efficient concentrating solar cell means having another technology pathway for producing cost-effective solar electricity.
Almost all of today’s solar cell modules do not concentrate sunlight but use only what the sun produces naturally, what researchers call “one sun insolation,” which achieves an efficiency of 12 to 18 percent.
However, by using an optical concentrator, sunlight intensity can be increased, squeezing more electricity out of a single solar cell.