Over the last two years, there has been somewhat of an explosion in new solar technology with next-generation panels featuring a variety of advanced PV cell designs and innovations helping boost efficiency, reduce degradation and improve reliability.
While some of the recent advancements including micro-busbars and gapless cell architectures have been adopted by many manufacturers, other innovations and combinations are new.
In this article, we explain how these new solar cell technologies increase efficiency, improve overall performance and increase the lifespan of a solar panel.
Latest Solar PV Cell Technology.
Most panel manufacturers offer a range of models including regular entry-level options and more advanced high-efficiency varieties featuring new technologies such as high-density cells, micro-wire busbars and rear-side passivation.
Below is a list of some leading PV cell technologies used today:
HJT - Heterojunction cells
TOPCon - Tunnel Oxide Passivated Contact
Gapless Cells - High-density cell construction
PERC - Passivated Emitter Rear Cells
Multi Busbar - Multi ribbon and micro-wire busbars
Split cells - half-cut and 1/3 cut cells
Shingled Cells - Multiple overlapping cells
IBC - Interdigitated Back Contact cells
These innovations and more explained in detail below offer various efficiency improvements, shade tolerance and increased reliability, with many manufacturers offering up to 25-year product warranties, and 25 to 30-year performance warranties. However, with all the new panel varieties available it is worth doing some research before you invest in a solar installation. In our quality solar panel review article, we explain how to select a reliable solar panel and further highlight the best quality manufacturers on the market.
Solar panel efficiency is one of several important factors and is dependent upon both the PV cell type and panel technology. Average panel efficiency has increased considerably over recent years from around 15% to above 20% as manufacturers incorporate the latest cell technologies and innovations. See more details about the many techniques used to increase efficiency in our detailed review of the most efficient solar panels available.
Most Efficient solar panels
At present, the world's most efficient solar panels are manufactured using IBC N-type monocrystalline silicon cells and achieve efficiency levels above 22%. The downside is that IBC N-type cells are by far the most expensive to manufacture, although the higher upfront cost is often outweighed by the increased efficiency, improved performance at higher temperatures and minimal light-induced degradation (LID), which means much higher energy yield over the life of the panel. Sunpower and SPIC are the two leading manufacturers that use N-type IBC cells. However, the latest panels from REC, Panasonic and Canadian Solar utilise very efficient N-type heterojunction (HJT) cells that feature an extremely low power temperature co-efficient which means they can outperform N-type IBC cells under certain conditions. See the full list of the most efficient solar panels.
SunPower - Maxeon 3 - 22.8% efficiency
Canadian Solar - CS6R-MS - 22.5% efficiency
REC Group - Alpha Pure R - 22.3% efficiency
SPIC - Andromeda 2.0 - 22.3% efficiency
Q cells - Q.TRON G1 - 22.3% efficiency
Panasonic - Evervolt H - 22.2% efficiency
The power temperature coefficient is the amount of power loss as cell temperature increases. All solar cells and panels are rated using standard test conditions (STC - measured at 25°C) and slowly reduce power output as cell temperature increases. Generally, the cell temperature is 20-35°C higher than the ambient air temperature which equates to an 8-14% reduction in power output.
Power temperature coefficient comparison - Lower is more efficient
Polycrystalline cells - 0.4 to 0.43 % /°C
Monocrystalline cells - 0.35 to 0.40 % /°C
Monocrystalline IBC cells - 0.29 to 0.31 % /°C
Monocrystalline HJT cells - 0.25 to 0.27 % /°C