We’ve always considered efficiency — a measure of how much of the sun’s energy is converted to electricity — to be the most important aspect of solar cell performance. In fact, Alta Devices is founded on the basic principle that very high efficiency solar cells are the single most important lever in reducing the overall cost of solar electricity. This is because most of the costs of a solar power plant, including the modules, the land, labor, hardware and wiring are directly proportional to the physical size of the plant. Given this large fixed cost, increasing the amount of energy generated per unit area decreases the cost of the electricity produced. Simply put, higher efficiency solar cells deliver more energy per unit area, dividing down the costs associated with the power plant and resulting in lower cost electricity.
Alta began producing solar cells with efficiencies that exceeded the existing world records for these types of cells. In fact, our highest performing cells routinely exceed 28% efficiency. However, to be useful, these cells need to be packaged in environmentally protective modules, introducing optical losses due to reflections and other mechanisms. So we are especially proud that we have created solar modules with efficiencies of 23.5%. This establishes a new world record, certified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL) for the highest efficiency solar modules ever produced.
Alta’s technology has the potential to herald in a new era where solar electricity is cost competitive with all types of energy generation, without the need for government subsidies. You can download the paper here.