Although solar cells have been around for over 100 years, their below-par efficiency and exorbitant price did not allow the technology to enjoy widespread adoption. Until recently, the use of solar PV panels was restricted to outer space or other areas where other energy sources are not usable.
Thanks to the result of years of research over several decades, the efficiency of solar panels has been improved and their cost of production was reduced. This development caused an increase in the popularity of solar panels, making them more suitable for both residential and industrial energy generation.
It is important to compare the efficiency of various solar PV panels in order to help buyers make more informed purchase decisions.
What is the Efficiency of a Photovoltaic Cell?
This is simply defined as the ratio of the energy output from a solar panel to the energy input from the sun. It gives a measure of the amount of electricity produced from the insolation absorbed by the panel.
Various factors like temperature and light spectrum affect the efficiency of a panel. As a consequence, the efficiency of panels should only be compared when subjected to similar conditions.
The Most Efficient Panels on the Market.
There are three major types of solar panels in the market; monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin film. Monocrystalline panels are the most efficient. This is because each module is created from a single crystal of pure silicon. Thin film panels contain no silicon and are the least efficient.
There are several companies dealing with the production of solar panels. The most efficient brands are discussed below.
They’re the largest producer of crystalline solar panels in the world. On a commercial level, their SunPower X22 360W released in 2017 offered the highest efficiency of about 22.2%.
Due to the recent improvement in their PV technology, LG’s 365-watt NeON R solar panel is designed with a high-class solar cell structure upping its efficiency to about 21.1 %.
By implementing a hetero-junction solar cell development, Panasonic’s solar cell consists of layers of crystalline and amorphous silicon. Their recent Panasonic N 330W panel boast of an efficiency of 19.7%.
Highest Efficiency at Laboratory Level
In December 2014, a new world record for the efficiency of a solar panel was set at 46%. The panel uses a multi-junction solar cell for light conversion to electrical energy. This panel is a product of a collaboration between Soitec, CEA-Leti in France and Fraunhofer ISE in Germany.
Although this record is laudable, the panel is not yet available for mass adoption and the official release might still take a while.
The Predicted Efficiency of Future Solar PV Panels
It is important to note that while selecting a solar panel, efficiency is not the only factor to be considered. While the efficiency is a very fundamental factor, the cost implication and the available space also matter.
It is predicted that in the future, solar panels will outperform other energy sources and gain worldwide adoption. However, for this prediction to come to fruition, we expect significant technological advancement to be made in the field.