University of New South Wales (UNSW) solar researchers in Australia have converted over 40% of the sunlight hitting a solar system into electricity, the highest efficiency ever reported. The record efficiency was achieved in outdoor tests in Sydney, before being independently confirmed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) at their outdoor test facility in the United States. The work was funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and supported by the Australia-US Institute for Advanced Photovoltaics (AUSIAPV). "This is the highest efficiency ever reported for sunlight conversion into electricity," UNSW Scientia Professor and Director of the Advanced Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP) Professor Martin Green said. "We used commercial solar cells, but in a new way, so these efficiency improvements are readily accessible to the solar industry," added Dr. Mark Keevers, the UNSW solar scientist who managed the project. The 40% efficiency milestone is the latest in a long line of achievements by UNSW solar researchers spanning four decades. These include the first photovoltaic system to convert sunlight to electricity with over 20% efficiency in 1989, with the new result doubling this performance. "The new results are based on the use of focused sunlight, and are particularly relevant to photovoltaic power towers being developed in Australia," Professor Green said. Power towers are being developed by Australian company, RayGen Resources, which provided design and technical support for the high efficiency prototype. Another partner in the research was Spectrolab, a US-based company that provided some of the cells used in the project.
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