UNSW Achieves 40 Percent Conversion Efficiency with Splitting Concentrator Solar System

UNSW’s solar researchers report having achieved over 40% conversion efficiency with its splitting concentrator solar system. The conversion efficiency is the highest efficiency ever reported for such a system. The efficiency record was achieved in outdoor tests in Sydney. Subsequently, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) independently confirmed the result at their outdoor test facility in the United States. The work was funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and supported by the Australia–US Institute for Advanced Photovoltaics (AUSIAPV)

“We used commercial solar cells, but in a new way, so these efficiency improvements are readily accessible to the solar industry,” said Dr Mark Keevers, the UNSW solar scientist who managed the project.

Australian company, RayGen Resources, which is developing the power towers, provided design and technical support for the prototype. US-based company, Spectrolab supplied some of the cells for the project. The prototype employs a custom optical bandpass filter that captures sunlight on towers that commercial solar cells normally waste and converts it to electricity at higher efficiency than the solar cells alone ever could. Such filters reflect particular wavelengths of light while transmitting others.

The 40% efficiency achievement is outlined in a paper expected to be published soon by the Progress in Photovoltaics journal. It was also presented at the Australian PV Institute’s Asia-Pacific Solar Research Conference.