Another Efficiency Record!

April 30, 2012 3 Comments

Last week I wrote one of my periodic “things-might-look-bad-but-progress-continues” blog posts about economic malaise alongside an innovation explosion in the solar industry. In it I mentioned a German company Heliatek making a new organic tinted solar panel. Now they have achieved a record efficiency for dye-sensitized solar cells at 10.7 percent. They are planning a roll-to-roll manufacturing process that will hopefully lead to economically competitive production in the near future. Way to go Heliatek!

In another very recent nugget, and new transparent graphene material dubbed “GraphExeter” (according to this article), could help improve solar panels even further by be a transparent conductor of electricity. The material could go near the top layer of solar panels, let the light through, and conduct more electricity. Could it increase solar panel efficiency by up to 30? We will wait and see.

Ford Focus Electric

If you are an early adopter and are looking for an EV to hook up to your solar panels, check out these recent reviews of the Ford Focus and the Nissan Leaf. One option for charging might be the GE Wattstation. It is certainly stylish, but I always wonder, is it cheap? I suppose, most people that can afford and electric car can also probably afford a Wattstation.


Just a reminder that the entry period for the snowmelt contest is done. No more entries will be accepted. We are now in the stage of watching and waiting to see when the snow will melt. From what I could see from this weekend, we still have a few days to go. Six people predicted today’s date. Way to take a chance and go out on a limb, but the winning date will not be today.

Have a fine Monday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.

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  1. Jeff Boyne says:

    Not sure about these particular solar cells, but I do know that when I was on the University of Michigan Solar Car Team (finished 3rd in the 1990 World Solar Challenge) in 1990 our solar cells were 15 percent efficient then. The University of Beal in Switzerland (which won the 1990 World Solar challenge) had 25 percent efficiency with their solar cells. I know that some solar cells are over 40 percent efficient today.

  2. jloew says:

    That’s awesome you were on the solar car team. The Michigan team usually does well. The types of solar cells have proliferated recently so there are many new records broken each year it seems. Here is a record from back in February:

    I believe you are correct about the efficiency record being a little over 40% in a lab set-up with crystalline cells and concentrated light.

  3. Jeff Boyne says:

    The University of Beal’s solar cells were one of the first crystalline cells. One of our main issues was the batteries. We learned about the importance of draining the batteries completely before recharging. When you did not do this, you could only recharge up to a reduced maximum limit. This limit would subsequently decline through the battery life. This same issue still lies with the batteries of today.

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