LONGi Green Energy Technology Company has set a new record with its state-of-the-art silicon-perovskite tandem solar cells, achieving an efficiency rate of 33.9 per cent.
The breakthrough was independently verified by the United States National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in early November 2023, according to a press release by the Xi’an-based photovoltaics firm.
LONGi edged out the previous record, held by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, by just 0.2 percentage points. In fact, LONGi has established itself as a dominant force in the realm of solar panel efficiency, breaking the record 15 times since April 2021, according to the renewables website, PV-Magazine.
Known as the Shockley-Queisser limit, the theoretical maximum efficiency of a tandem solar cell is 43 per cent. To contextualise LONGi’s rapid improvement, since November last year, the Chinese energy firm has improved its tandem cell efficiency from 26.81 per cent in November 2022 to 33.9 per cent in 12 months.
Tandem cells are currently the best alternative to the mono-junction silicon solar panels used today, according to LONGi president, Li Zhenguo. A tandem solar cell is composed of multiple materials, each of which responds to different parts of the solar spectrum, such as gamma and radio waves.
LONGi’s latest creation is manufactured from silicon and perovskite, a calcium-based mineral that boosts the S-Q limit of solar panels significantly. Hua Jiang, deputy secretary-general of the China Photovoltaic Industry Association, said LONGi’s record-breaking tandem cells further prove the company’s position as a world leader in the field of solar energy.
Indeed, Chinese solar firms dominate the supply chain, controlling 80 per cent of the world’s production, from polysilicon, wafers, cells and other critical components. China is expected to add 1 000 gigawatts to the global supply by next year – enough to meet the world’s current solar demands for the next ten years, according to a report by research company, Wood Mackenzie.
China will continue its solar supremacy for the foreseeable future as it continues to pour investment into the industry, said Huaiyan Sun, senior consultant at Wood Mackenzie.
In 2023 alone, the country has invested an estimated $130 billion into photovoltaic research and development. China’s closest rivals, India and the US, have both announced more than 200 gigawatts of solar capacity since 2022, but both are still heavily reliant on China for critical solar panel components, particularly wafers and cells.