The world record for converting sunlight into electricity, that is.
Scientists at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have achieved a new world record for converting sunlight into electricity. The new solar cell configuration developed by engineers at the University pushed sunlight-to-electricity conversion efficiency to 34.5%.
The record was set by UNSW's Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP) using a 28 cm2 four-junction mini-module – embedded in a prism – that extracts the maximum energy from sunlight. It does this by splitting the incoming rays into four bands, using a four-junction receiver to squeeze even more electricity from each beam of sunlight.
The project aims to reduce the cost of utility-scale photovoltaics by developing a technology that splits sunlight into specific wavelength bands (spectrum splitting) and converts each separate band into electricity, using commercially available triple-junction and silicon (Si) solar cells, thereby increasing the overall amount of electricity generated.
It builds on a unique Australian technology that was developed for the world's first operational concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) power tower. The new UNSW result, confirmed by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is almost 44% better than the previous record – made by Alta Devices of the USA, which reached 24% efficiency, but over a larger surface area of 800-cm2.
Utility-scale photovoltaics would be a step closer to commercial viability using the combination of two innovative Australian technologies: a spectrum splitting or ‘Power Cube' receiver applied to a CPV power tower system.
Senior Research Fellow and Director of the ACAP said that extracting more energy from every beam of sunlight is critical to reducing the cost of electricity generated by solar cells, as it lowers the investment needed and delivers the payback faster.
The UNSW research is supported by funding of $1.4 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). CEO Ivor Frischknecht said that Australia already punches above its weight in solar research and development and is recognised as a world leader in solar innovation.
Renewable energy boost for Queensland jobs and investment as the state government has welcomed the offer of a power purchase agreement (PPA) to progress towards a 170 megawatt (MW) wind farm in the State's far north.
Ergon Energy has offered the PPA to Mount Emerald Wind Farm, which is a joint venture between Ratch Australia and Port Bajool. The investment in the region is projected to rise to more than $400 million, over a two-year period, including construction.
The proponent of Mount Emerald Wind Farm has advised that during the construction phase, employment will peak at more than 150 jobs.
In terms of investment and economic activity, the projections are for more than $400 million in total expenditure in the region over the two-year construction period and the project is expected to last at least twenty-five years and create many new renewable energy jobs in Queensland.
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