Cheating in Solar Efficiency

Research on solar efficiency

Research on Solar Efficiency : The problem that limits the efficiency of solar panels is solved

The problem

Solar energy is one of the systems with greater availability that we can find to generate energy through renewable sources, thanks to its low relative cost and high availability for the consumer.

Although most solar cells only reach 20% efficiency. Each kW of equivalent sunlight, approximately 200W of electrical power can be generated.

Research on Solar Efficiency

The international team of researchers from the University of Manchester, has solved the existing problem about material defects that limit and reduce the efficiency of solar cells. This problem has been studied for more than 40 years, with more than 270 research projects.

This research shows the first observation of a material effect that limits the efficiency of silicon solar cells. Professor Tony Peaker coordinated the investigation and stated that. “Due to the environmental and financial impact, the degradation of efficiency of solar panels has been a subject of great scientific and engineering interest in the last four decades” “During the first hours of operation, after installation, the efficiency of a solar panel drops from 20% to approximately 18%.

A 2% drop in efficiency may not seem like a big problem, but if you consider that these panels are now responsible for delivering a large fraction of the world’s total energy needs, it’s a significant loss of power generation capacity. ”

The approach used by the researchers identified the mechanism responsible for the degradation included by light (LID). By combining a specialized electrical and optical technique, known as “deep level transient spectroscopy” (DLTS), the team discovered the experience of a material effect that initially remains inactive within the use of silicon to manufacture the cells.

What does it consist of?

The electronic charge within most of the silicon solar cell is transformed under sunlight, part of its energy generation process. The team discovered that this transformation involves a highly effective “trap” that prevents the flow of charge carriers, that is, photogenerated electrons.

Lain Crowe who co-authored this study said: “This flow of electrons is what determines the size of the electric current that a solar cell can supply to a circuit, anything that prevents it reduces the efficiency of the solar cell and the electrical energy that can be generated for a given level of sunlight.” The cost of this solar deficit must be covered by other less sustainable sources of energy, such as the burning of fossil fuels.


The industry standard technique used to determine the quality of the silicon material measures the useful life of load carriers, which is longer in high quality material without “traps”.


Researchers in Manchester realized that their observations were strongly correlated with the lifetime of the load carrier, which was significantly reduced after the transformation of the defect under illumination.


They realized that the effect was reversible, so the useful life increased when the material was heated in the dark, a process commonly used to eliminate the “traps” that limit solar efficiency.


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