In an effort to spur innovation in the field of solar research, the government has worked in recent years to increase funding to domestic solar companies; that funding seems to be paying off as an Illinois-based company announced it created solar panels that are more efficient than many models currently on the market.
Epir Technologies said this week that it succeeded in producing solar panels on commercial glass from polycrystalline cadmium telluride, enabling the solar modules to convert sunlight into energy with higher efficiency. The company teamed with the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory to test the solar modules and found that they had a maximum efficiency of 15.2 percent - higher than many standard models.
Timothy Coutts, a fellow emeritus at the Golden, Colorado-based laboratory where testing was conducted, said in a statement that the company joins a short list of solar researchers to achieve such a high rate of efficiency. "This achievement elevates Epir to the very small group of solar companies and research facilities that have reproducibly fabricated CdTe solar cells with greater than 15 percent efficiency," he said.
Epir is one of a growing number of solar companies that endeavor to develop thin-film solar panels as a less-expensive alternative to silicon-based modules. Arizona-based First Solar is a market leader in the development of CdTe panels, but faces increasing competition as companies look to bring further efficiencies to the solar modules.