A team at the University of New South Wales led by professor Martin Green worked with a local company to create a highly efficient solar energy system that uses mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto a central solar panel to generate electricity.
The method is known as concentrator photovoltaics (CPV), and the result is a system with an efficiency of 40 percent, meaning 40 percent of the sunlight hitting the solar panels is converted into energy — the highest such level ever achieved.
Most important, the design uses readily available materials, which makes putting the system into operation easier and cheaper than trying to commercialize more experimental designs.
Green, who is also the director for the Australian Center for Advanced Photovoltaics, has a history of this kind of innovation. In 2011 he and his team built a solar cell that operated with 19.3 percent efficiency, edging out the previous record holder's 18.9 percent efficiency.
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