University of New South Wales (UNSW) researchers have recently claimed yet another record for developing one of the world’s most efficient solar modules. The United State’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently published a chart dating back to 1988 of the Champion Module Efficiencies, in which UNSW topped.
The hybrid four-junction module developed by researchers at UNSW converts 40.6% of received solar energy into electricity. In 2016, the same team of engineers bettered the previous record by developing a similar module that achieved 35.4% efficiency.
With Australia currently experiencing a solar boom, it seems existing module efficiencies are already commercially viable. However, teams of researchers, such as those at UNSW, are continuing to make advancements which are driving cheaper, more efficient and more commercially available solar technology, furthering Australia’s transition to renewables.
Although these advancements in module efficiency are fantastic for the solar industry, they are unlikely to be used commercially anytime soon due to the complexity and high manufacturing cost involved. However, without the continual support both publically and financially, the technology would struggle to develop.
Late last year, the engineering faculty at UNSW signed a deal with a Chinese specialist PV manufacturer. The primary goal of the deal is to improve the efficiency of a PERC solar cell to 27% efficiency and enabling the technology to be mass produced without a significant price increase.
UNSW installed solar PV at its Sydney location with Todae Solar in late 2015, a 237kW rooftop solar system. The three separate systems installed at the university’s Kensington Campus in Sydney were estimated to generate an annual output of around 265,000kWh.