As the US sets up guidelines for siting new solar farms and plants, the efficiency of their building blocks in converting solar energy to electricity continues to increase. Eric Wesoff of GreentechSolar reports that Solar Junction, a US producer of solar cells, recently created a new, compound triple junction solar cell with a record-breaking efficiency of 44 percent, verified by the federal National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Triple junction cells absorb light efficiently at 3 different light wavelengths, which, under the concentrated sunlight conditions of a thermal plant, allow them to boost solar efficiency well beyond the theoretical limit of 34% for traditional solar cells. Company co-founder Vijit Sabnis sites several studies showing 70 percent theoretical efficiencies from a 5- or 6-junction cell. More practically, he sees 50 percent cell efficiency as being achievable in three to five years, which could boost the efficiency of the DC modules in solar farms, which convert solar energy into electricity, to 40 percent. The hope is that these more efficient compound solar cells can improve the economics of concentrated photovoltaics.
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