Amonix, a solar manufacturer based in California, has been focusing on pushing the efficiency of solar modules to new levels. The company specializes in concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) systems – basically solar power enhanced by using mirrors and lenses that bring up the concentrations of sunlight. Amonix has now built a CPV solar module with a peak efficiency of 34.2%, which is the highest rating ever achieved in real-world conditions.
The testing was conducted over several sunny days by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The Department of Energy once aimed for efficiency rates of photovoltaics to reach “One-third of a sun” (over 33.3%), which Amonix now has made a reality.
“This is a huge milestone for Amonix and the CPV industry. We have been at the forefront of CPV technology breakthroughs and have consistently proven that CPV offers the highest efficiencies of all solar technologies in the right operating conditions with plenty of headroom. Amonix is focused on driving CPV costs down and breaking efficiency records in the near future.” states Vahan Garboushian, the founder and CTO of Amonix.
Note that the efficiency of individual solar cells (not entire modules/panels) typically reaches higher levels. The best solar panels using CPV technology have shown cell efficiency rates of over 43% under ideal conditions; however, entire modules have to be tested to evaluate the potential of the different technologies.
Concentrated photovoltaic systems are especially useful in cases where there`s not a lot of space available. Other major benefits include less photovoltaic material needed, which has the potential of significantly reduce costs.
Amonix, as with many other U.S. solar companies, have recently closed one of their manufacturing plants (Las Vegas). The competition against Chinese manufacturers and the race to beat foreign prices is ruthless. The new record efficiency sure can`t hurt the company. Let`s hope the new technology is scalable and has the potential to bring down solar prices.