Panasonic Corp.'s prototype solar cell has achieved the world's highest conversion efficiency at 24.7%, according to tests performed by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, the Nikkei reports in its Feb. 11 edition.The previous record of 24.2% held by U.S. company SunPower Corp. SPWR +19.04%, a mark that is still recognized as the world's highest by Progress in Photovoltaics, an internationally recognized publication in the field of solar-energy research.
The Panasonic prototype's surface membrane allows more sunlight to pass through, and its electrodes transfer electricity more efficiently. The company aims to commercialize the prototype and raise the conversion efficiency of its mass-market solar cells, which stands at 21.6%.The Japanese electronics maker's solar-cell business has been profitable, but the company sees a tougher business environment ahead. To boost profitability, it aims to develop more-efficient solar cells focusing on household products, which offer more price stability than other applications.
In addition, Panasonic is working to lower its solar-cell production costs by 20% by manufacturing them at a new Malaysian plant using a higher proportion of parts made outside Japan.