Sharp develops world's most efficient solar panel

By on June 14, 2013, 1:00 PM
sharp, power, electricity, solar cell, solar panel

When Sharp isn’t working on their latest LCD and LED televisions, they are actively looking to improve clean energy sources. The Japanese firm has just announced that they have developed the world’s most efficient solar panel, which converts an impressive 44.4 percent of incoming photons into electrical energy.

If this figure means little to you, then it might help to know that the best commercial models can only achieve efficiencies slightly above the 20 percent mark. Needless to say, Sharp’s technological breakthrough is an amazing achievement, and one that will hopefully relieve our dependence on fossil fuels.

Sharp used a concentrator triple-junction compound solar cell to attain the 44.4 percent efficiency, as confirmed by the Fraunhofer Institute of Solar Energy Systems (ISE) in Germany.  This means that the light is first passed through a series of lenses that focus the photons on a central location. The concentrated light beam is then converted into electrical power by three photo-absorption layers, made from a multitude of elements including indium, gallium and arsenide.

Despite the breakthrough, you shouldn’t expect to see the Sharp panels powering your house or heating your swimming pool; at least not anytime soon. Due to the high costs associated with the compound cells, they are primarily used on spacecraft and satellites. But don’t fret – like any other good invention, it just takes a little bit of time before it reaches the masses. So be patient.

User Comments: 16

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Renrew Renrew said:

Too bad solar is out of the reach of most except the well off. This new technology is great but the costs will be much higher judging by the amount of materials and manufacturing processes involved.

Heihachi1337 said:

Nice in that it is a step in the right direction.

Sucks because solar panels are still horribly inefficient. 20% at best currently and Samsung just did a little more than double efficiency bringing it to 44%....that is a little pathetic still. Let me know when it reaches at least 65% then I might be a bit more impressed with the technology.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

This is what a call a trully good news in technology...

1 person liked this | ThanosPAS ThanosPAS said:

Panels for space use which contain these exotic elements are in fact in use for years with similar power yields.

"But don?t fret ? like any other good invention, it just takes a little bit of time before it reaches the masses. So be patient."

I highly doudt about that, because these elements are extremely rare. It' s more realistic to hope for 3rd generation panels than gallium/ indium triple junction etc etc solutions.

Research before you write an article. This table is 5 years old:


In your article it's like Sharp is there alone above 20%, it's written like an advertisement.

ReederOnTheRun ReederOnTheRun said:

The high efficiencies always attract the headlines, but some more practical solar cells are being developed quite cheaply from organic material. The only problem is they have relatively low efficiencies and require more maintenance. In the future, I'm sure the solar panels people use will be a balance of affordability and efficiency, not a super high tech record breaker like this.

Here's a chart on the (approximately) current data for solar panels if you want to see where we're currently at: [link]

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Here's a chart on the (approximately) current data for solar panels if you want to see where we're currently at: [link]
Thanks for the chart ROTR.

Unfortunately other than the time-line and efficiency-scale, I didn't understand a thing on it. :/

JC713 JC713 said:

Graphene is where the shiznick as it.

inventix1136 said:

Can't wait for the "fun" the world will have with recycling solar panels and their associated arsenic laden plates -- obviously you can't throw them into the landfill since most of the compounds are toxic...

teribithia said:

20 percent mark to 44.4 percent . Of course there is no impossible in the world

MrBungle said:

This tech is cool and I'm sure in cases where electricity is needed in remote locations it will serve us well. That said, until solar cells can make enough power to pay for their manufacture, maintenance, and then some they will not be commercially viable and will remain a niche market.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Sharp's retail products really don't keep pace with all it's ballyhooed "technological breakthroughs". It's mostly junk. (IMHO of course).

If Sharp was a car brand, they would win every race they entered, but the cars they sold to the public would be nothing but lemons.

As soon as I see the "Sharp" name on a product, I simply walk away.

The sun destroys just about every man made product (*), and I always wonder about the service life of products such as solar panels, which are designed to be, "first at the scene of the accident", so to speak.

(*) although glass does pretty well in holding up. But then, it is almost pure silicon.

Guest said:

Heihachi1337: A gasoline/petrol engine has a thermal efficiency of 25-30% and a diesel around 40%. I assume you don't want a car until they're 65% efficient either...


Great invention, may ties for some more up to 10 th level may be it will take some more time to reach the 85% of the concentrated power generation.


Guest said:

Not entirely true... sure its true that many of the more efficient models can be incredibly expensive, but so was electricity when it was first discovered and began being produced for commercial use. to add to that we are maybe 10 years from perfecting solar panels however even if we perfect the panels the huge problem is the losses that occur upon storage. so unless we can discover a way to create a high output low conversion loss storage device the dream of energy independence is just that, a dream.

1 person liked this | AcidCitrus AcidCitrus said:

I've read a lot of misinformation on these forums.

20% efficiency is not bad! Gas engines in cars are only 25-30% efficient.

Solar is affordable now, prices have dropped a lot in the past few years. Where I live in CA you can break even in 4-10 years depending on whom you use. If you don't have the capital to outlay you can lease.

Are the poisons from recycling the panels worse any worse than the pollution from coal, the climate change effects from CO2, or nuclear waste and the risk from nuclear disaster.

Peak power consumption is from 1-7, so that is when solar panels are most useful. It feeds into the grid and at least in CA, you get a pretty penny for you home generated electricity, and can bring your bill to zero if you ahve the roof space. The future is here.

These new panels sound great, let's hope the price can come down

Guest said:

Nanowire technology for solar panels claim ten times more efficient than current mono-crystalline panels. It also boast less material to make so cheaper to construct, so it looks like Sharp is already obsolete. Although, no commercial production as of yet.

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