Clean Power

Published on February 23rd, 2016 | by Guest Contributor


SunPower Sets New Solar Panel Efficiency Record (Nearly 23%)

February 23rd, 2016 by  

Originally published on Sustainnovate.
By Henry Lindon

NREL Confirms New Record, SunPower Launches X22 Solar Panel With Conversion Efficiency Of 23%

SunPower recently launched the new X22 solar photovoltaic (PV) panel in the US market, giving consumers the option of purchasing a top-of-the-line panel with a 22.8% conversion efficiency.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently verified during testing that a SunPower X-Series — the product series that the X22 is a part of — solar panel achieved a conversion efficiency of 22.8%, thus marking the official achievement of a new world record for its class.

“Solar technology differs widely from brand to brand, so it’s important for consumers to consider that not all panels deliver the same amount of energy, look elegant on a roof, or are guaranteed to last as long as promised,” stated Howard Wenger, SunPower president, business units. “SunPower panels are the most efficient that homeowners can buy, and we stand behind them for a quarter century. We’re proud to hold the world-record title for efficiency.”

Going on: “At SunPower, we innovate relentlessly to deliver the most powerful and durable solar energy solutions chosen by residential, commercial and power plant customers demanding the best when investing in their clean energy futures. SunPower’s greatest minds have raised the bar for the industry, and will continue to push the boundaries of quality solar for our customers.”

Relating to the advantages of SunPower high-efficiency solar panels, a new press release provided this: “The high efficiency solar panels generate more energy in the same amount of space as conventional solar panels, which can reduce the number of panels needed to meet consumers’ energy needs. Compared to conventional solar panels with efficiencies that range from 15% to 18%, a SunPower X-Series solar panel produces over 70% more energy in the same space over the first 25 years.”

The company’s high-efficiency E-Series and X-Series panels are currently available to consumers in the US. The earlier E-Series (and also the X21) solar panels are also available in Europe, Japan, and Australia.

Image via SunPower

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  • omar

    How it perform in high temperature areas?

    • Otis11

      Better than polycrystalline cells, but not as well as thin-film. (Well, thin film will lose less as a percent of production, but will still produce less per unit area)

  • Brett

    “Compared to conventional solar panels with efficiencies that range from 15% to 18%, a SunPower X-Series solar panel produces over 70% more energy in the same space over the first 25 years.”

    How does that math work? 22.8% vs 15% to 18% works out to a ~27% to 52% increase in electricity produced by my calculation. Still good, just wondering what I missed.

    • Riely Rumfort

      Maybe it has less initial efficiency decline? I wasn’t quite sure either.

    • Possibly implying that their panels degrade slower than the 15-18% panels?

    • tech01xpert

      From: SunPower’s website:

      Source: SunPower 345W compared to a Conventional Panel (240W, 15% efficient, approx. 1.6 m2), 9% more energy per watt, 0.75%/yr slower degradation. BEW/DNV Engineering “SunPower Yield Report,” Jan 2013, with CFV Solar Test Lab Report #12063, Jan 2013 temp. coef. calculation. Campeau, Z. et al. “SunPower Module Degradation Rate,” SunPower white paper, Feb 2013.

      SunPower’s panels are monocrystalline, which means better performance when hot over polycrystalline. Add to that slower degradation, and they are typically superior. However, everything still does come down to ROI, and SunPower panels are typically expensive and hard to obtain.

      • Brett

        Thanks for the digital legwork, hadn’t consider retained efficiency via improved lifespan. I’m sure most individual getting an installation wouldn’t think about the significant differences in degradation rate. Hooray, I’ve learned my one new thing for today!

      • fiddler John

        Thanks tech01xpert:
        The SunPower statement: “9% more energy per watt” is a silly thought.
        What is meant is “9% more energy per RATED Watt.” Where a RATED Watt is the RATED POWER of the module and not the actual measured J/s over time that produces the energy.

        I read SunPower statements that say watt instead of Watt. SunPower should know that J/s is a Watt.

        • fiddler John

          I wrote an email to SunPower to explain that Joule/second is a Watt and the response was:
          “Sorry, we don’t server your region today”
          … server?
          “SunPower does not currently operate in your country.”
          So SunPower does not operate in the USA.

        • Otis11

          Not quite – they claim more energy per watt. Not more power per watt as you seem to suggest.

          They’re saying you’re going to get more kWh from their system for each kW installed due to the better performance when hot (which is typical – they’re rated at 20C iirc, but typically operate much above this).

  • Sunpower panels are not readily available to consumers. To get Sunpower panels on your home you have to go through one of their approved installers. They cannot be purchased directly from a distributor or Sunpower.

  • mikgigs

    So, what was the previous record?

    • Riely Rumfort

      22.5 by SolarCity, a whole .3 less.

      • Frank

        Which is 1.3%. Remember these gains add up over time, and also, remember, these guys live in a competitive environment, where there is a winner, and a looser, where it only matters that you won the deal, even if only because you were a little better.

        • Riely Rumfort

          22.5 vs 22.8, 1.3 how so?
          Truly high end panels like this aren’t often the best price per watt. If your roof space is limited they make sense, that’s about it.

          • Frank

            (22.8 – 22.5) ÷ 22.5 × 100 What did you get when you did that?

          • Riely Rumfort

            Oh total percentage,then yes 1 and 1/3rd percentage of the total. Highly marginal, a couple degrees latitude makes the same difference.

          • Frank

            If the market for solar modules is not supply constrained, then the manufacturers that can make modules a little more efficient, or cheaper have an advantage over those that don’t. Efficiency affects the amount of space you need, and the balance of materials costs, like racking and wires. If your competition makes these kinds improvements, and you don’t, pretty soon you find yourself out of business.

          • Riely Rumfort

            Cheaper isn’t always better with green energy though.
            Chinese Cells are Dirty.
            I won’t buy their batteries or panels.

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