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Most Efficient Solar Cells Graph Gets Upgraded

The most-visited page on NREL’s website has a big new upgrade.

The most-frequently opened page on NREL’s website, the “Best Research-Cell Efficiency Chart,” has become more interesting. The upgraded version offers more advanced chart customization technology. With the new interactive version, researchers can search, access, and create anything from comparisons. NREL reports the new interactive version can pull up decades of research data and compare custom charts that focus on specific technologies or time periods.

“There’s much more than just the efficiency of a solar cell,” said Nikos Kopidakis, a physicist at NREL who oversees the regularly updated chart. “There’s the current, the voltage output, and other parameters and who made the cell. In most cases, now you can mouse over and there is a pop-up showing you additional parameters for that cell. It’s more informative.”

Zoom in on a specific time period. Create technology-specific charts or charts that compare specific technologies. Discover again what has been developed step by step over the last 50 years. Have fun with this new upgrade to NREL’s famous graph on the most efficient solar cells in the world.

NREL reports that this interactive chart contains information on a range of different photovoltaic (PV) cell technologies. That includes perovskite solar cells, multi-junction solar cells, thin-film solar cells, and more. You can track the most efficient solar cells in multiple categories and/or across the solar PV world as a whole. No one does it better. “All that underlying data is also available in a full data file, for those who want to dive really deep.”

An output from the new, interactive chart shows the development of two types of silicon solar cells (in blue). These are the most widely deployed PV technology today. It also shows the efficiency evolution of perovskite solar cells (in orange), a newer PV technology that is just beginning to be commercialized.

What’s Changed?

The information available from the chart was previously limited to the efficiency of a cell and the name of its maker. It was limited and could only be downloaded as a PDF. Now, users can customize which technologies appear, users can now explore the data behind each point, and users can export their own customized versions of the chart. NREL notes that the static chart will also remain available. Progressive updates to it will be made regularly. No changes will be made to the companion “Champion Photovoltaic Module Efficiency Chart” containing far fewer data points, at this time at least.

By mousing over an individual point on the interactive cell efficiency chart, users can see more details about that record cell. The availability of details will vary from point to point depending on what information NREL has in its records.

NREL is one of many independent testing centers measuring cell efficiencies, but it is the queen of tracking solar cell efficiency.

“It’s possible that the NREL efficiency chart is the most presented graph that you can find at the annual PV Specialists Conference and similar conferences,” said Sarah Kurtz, an NREL Senior Research Fellow and University of California–Merced professor. “But it has gotten so full that it’s difficult to see the data. With the new interactive chart, researchers will be able to still use the data, but present it in a way that communicates better for their talk.”

Access the new interactive version of the chart here.

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Written By

Cynthia Shahan started writing after previously doing research and publishing work on natural birth practices. (Several unrelated publications) She is a licensed health care provider. She studied and practiced both Waldorf education, and Montessori education, mother of four unconditionally loving spirits.


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