UNSW researchers shatter the world record with their solar-power system’s 40% efficiency

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In October, we talked about how UCSD researchers had developed a composite nanomaterial that has the ability to convert almost a whopping 90 percent of sunlight that it absorbs into heat energy. However, the technological application of the achievement entailed relatively uncommon Concentrated Solar Power systems. But this time around, we go back to the typical scope of photovoltaic systems, with University of New South Wales (UNSW) scientists claiming to set the world record by contriving a solar mechanism that boasts of 40 percent efficiency.

In other words, the developed system has the ability to convert a substantial 40 percent of sunlight into usable electricity. And quite interestingly, the resultant scope is fueled by a combination of different solar-oriented technologies, including heliostat mirror concentrators (from RayGen Resources) and high-efficiency PV cells (from Boeing’s Spectrolab). However, the real ‘game changer’ entailed the usage of a customized optical bandpass filter. This advanced filter is useful for selective advantages derived from the light spectrum, by allowing in the beneficial effect of some components while reflecting the negative effect of others.

Coming to the testing phase, the developed system had already showed its potential with its impressive figures, inside the Sydney-based lab. The setup was further tested and then credibly ratified by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), with the prototype arrangement duplicated for outdoors in United States. And as we mentioned before, far higher efficiency rates had been achieved by earlier solar technologies; but all of them were designed for CSP mechanisms that convert sunlight into usable heat for powering turbines (for thermal electricity).

On the contrary, UNSW’s record shattering contrivance directly converts light into electricity, thus pertaining to a proper photovoltaic device. This in turns alludes to a simpler and cheaper setup, with far more potential for commercial applications. This is what Professor Martin Green (from UNSW), who is also the Director of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP), had to say about the achievement –

This is the highest efficiency ever reported for sunlight conversion into electricity. The new results are based on the use of focused sunlight, and are particularly relevant to photovoltaic power towers being developed in Australia.

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Source: UNSW

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