Clean Power sol voltaics

Published on March 19th, 2015 | by Jake Richardson


PV Conversion Efficiency Doubled In NanoWire Array Solar Cell

March 19th, 2015 by  

Sweden-based Sol Voltaics has announced that it has doubled the previous world record for  photovoltaic (PV) conversion efficiency using a gallium-arsenide (GaAs) nanowire array (NWA).

sol voltaics

The company’s 1-sun conversion efficiency of 15.3% in a GaAs NWA solar cell was reportedly verified by an independent source, Fraunhofer-ISE, the largest solar research institute in Europe (with a staff of about 1,300).

“The efficiency of our GaAs nanowires is a critical component of our low-cost film. The use of III-V materials in the PV industry has always been a goal but the costs have been prohibitive. Using Sol Voltaic’s Aerotaxy® nanowire production methodology allows our III-V film to be produced at competitive cost at efficiencies that are industry changing,” explained Erik Smith, CEO. “We look forward to working with industrial partners on the integration of our technology on to Si cells so they may make the leap to 27% efficiency and beyond.”

These kinds of milestones are important because they move the needle towards a future when solar power is everywhere, providing the human race with clean, renewable energy, instead of relying on harmful fossil fuels.

Sol Voltaics has a video here that gives you an idea of how they enhance solar cell surfaces with their nanotechnology to increase efficiency.

Increasing to 27% efficiency would be quite a leap, at least in solar cell terms.

In 1959, the first commercially available solar cells with 10% efficiency were made available. Today, the rate of technology improvement seems to be much faster, most likely due to the fact our computing resources are relatively vast.

The nanowires are sort of like antennae that are embedded into a film so that they can absorb sunlight and generate electricity.

Sol Voltaics makes nanomaterials and nanowire material to enhance solar panel products. The company was founded in 2008. In 2013, it collected a $6 million conditional loan from the Swedish Energy Agency.

Image Credit: Sol Voltaic

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  • TCFlood

    This looks like a PR/fundraising video. They are way ahead of themselves claiming 5 cents/kWh with 27% efficiency for delivered energy when the combined Si GaAs cells haven’t even been made yet. Especially since growth and deposition of the wires requires permanent incorporation of gold nanoparticles.

  • BtotheT

    If you’re gonna shell out for gallium I guess you mine as well make it nano for the gains.
    So far it’s been independently verified at 15.3% efficiency(1 sun) as a tandem film.

    Wonder how the production cost of Aerotaxy compares to MBE(Epitaxy).

    I think such an efficient power throughput might even hold promise in other fields of electric transfer if within the right strata of the price to product gains matrix. I mean to say if the cost does turn out a bit on the prohibitively high end with a common PV it could still be of great use to the transistor market in general or lower the price of multijunction cells.

  • Michael G

    The cool graphics video is dated 2011. Not a lot of info in it. Are they just trying to get more funding?

  • YBT

    They throw out a casual “5c per kwh” towards the end of the video – is this projected or achieved?

    • Bob_Wallace

      Currently utility scale solar is probably between 5c and 6c/kWh in the US.

      We saw a PPA signed for 5c last year. Taking out the value of the federal tax credit that would make it about 6.13c. Since then component prices have continued to fall.

      This technology is going to have to get to about 20% efficient to be competitive with silicon. (Assuming similar costs.)

      • Bri

        I’d definitely take that considering National Grid jacked rates up to $0.16/kWh this winter. Yep, that doesn’t include transmission fees.

    • NEVER NEVER NEVER until the conversion rate approached 100% and that will NEVER HAPPEN …..THE MAXIMUM lies between 15 – 20 % theoretically ……. Sure in Israel Egypt Iraq solar cells work but a GOOD BATTERY is still well beyond economic development and again will never be affordable ……The long term out look for N. America is for continuing Grants and rebates of taxes and a padded pay out from the public utilities for power purchased by the grid if the solar panel industry is not to wither on the vine !

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