Solar Panel Manufacturers explore new methods for higher efficiency
As the solar industry struggles back to its feet following the economic nosedive that left solar panel manufacturers grossly overstocked and undersold, companies face a new hurdle in efficiency. American companies like SunPower are racing the growing Chinese solar industry to improve the amount of energy harnessed by their panels, and producers on both sides of the Pacific are getting creative.
The real problem is the materials being deployed. The efficiency of industry standard panels made from polycrystalline silicon is capped at 29%. To push past this limit, companies are exploring a wide array of new designs, from panels capable of pivoting to directly face the sun throughout the day to more compact wiring maneuvers capable of making an iPhone blush.
SunPower is also exploring the prospect of adding concentrators to its panels, to focus the sun’s energy on a more direct path to the panel. SunPower executive Tom Werner is confident in his company’s ability to outshine the competition, regardless of the physical limitations of silicon. It will be interesting to see the measures taken by the industry’s major players, as they attempt to shatter 29% and keep the panels affordable for the general public.