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World Record for Solar Energy Efficiency

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Solar researchers at the University of NSW have converted more than 40% of the sunlight hitting a solar system into electricity, the highest efficiency ever reported.

The world-beating efficiency was achieved in outdoor tests in Sydney before being independently confirmed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory at its outdoor test facility in the United States.

“This is the highest efficiency ever reported for sunlight conversion into electricity,” said Prof Martin Green of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics.

“We used commercial solar cells, but in a new way, so these efficiency improvements are readily accessible to the solar industry,” added Dr Mark Keevers of UNSW, who managed the project.

“The new results are based on the use of focused sunlight, and are particularly relevant to photovoltaic power towers being developed in Australia,” Green said.

A key part of the prototype’s design is the use of a custom optical bandpass filter, which captures sunlight that is normally wasted by commercial solar cells on towers and converts it to electricity at a higher efficiency than the solar cells themselves ever could. Such filters reflect particular wavelengths of light while transmitting others.

The 40% efficiency achievement is outlined in a paper in Progress in Photovoltaics.

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The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.