Sharp, GE, Google, Boeing,… who isn’t in the clean tech game these days? Boeing (yes, the airplane company) has just announced that it “plans to deliver its first commercial scale high-efficiency solar-power cells for Earth-based electricity production in January,” according to Bloomberg News.
Boeing’s concentrating photovoltaic cells have an efficiency of up to 39.2%, which is excellent, but not record-breaking as some sites around the web are saying. Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) set the solar cell efficiency record at 40.8% in 2008 and German researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems set the record a little higher at 41.1% at the beginning of 2009.
Nonetheless, commercial production of such an efficient solar cell is a great success, and Boeing says its efficiency may average 40% next year once improvements are made during the production process.
The high-efficiency solar cells have been developed by Boeing’s Spectrolab unit for satellites and the International Space Station. They are made from single-crystal germanium substrates.
Boeing is intending to produce up to 10 million of these solar cells next year.
While, as I wrote above, Boeing has not set a solar cell efficiency record (yet), this statement from the Bloomberg News coverage is probably what has generated the confusion:
The top polysilicon-based solar panels manufactured by SunPower Corp., based in San Jose, California, can convert a maximum of 22 percent of the sun’s rays into electricity. In June, a SunPower solar cell reached a 24.2 percent conversion efficiency, the record for large silicon wafers.
Looks like Boeing has made another big stride forward. Perhaps you’ll have Boeing solar cells on your roof soon.
Photo Credit: ~DocBudie~ via flickr (CC license)