1975-2013: All solar efficiency records in one chart

10 April 2013 by

The National Center for Photovoltaics (NCPV), part of the American National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) has published an impressive chart, showing all the developments in efficiency records from 1975 onwards. All the different technologies are included, from 'regular' crystalline and thin-film, to single- and multi-junction cells, organic cells, quantom dots, dye-sensitized and more.

The graph shows steady growth over the years for all the different technologies. The efficiency numbers of the technologies that are actually implemented on the largest scale right now are still a step lower than what's in the lab, but those lab-modules might of course be the standard in the near future.


NREL Chart



Looking at the companies, universities and research institutes behind these advancements we see some interesting developments. It's impressive to see how NREL has been heavily involved in many technological advancements since the 90s. Other heavyweights have been research-labs like Fraunhofer and (Boeing)-Spectrolab .

Focusing on the corporate giants, we notice that Sharp , but also Panasonic , Sanyo and Siemens have contributed to the field with their own R&D departments.

Universities have always been critical in research, and it's no surprise to see institutes like Standford , Georgia Tech and UCLA reprsented in the chart. From Europe, we see mostly German (Dresden, Linz, Stuttgart ) and Dutch (Groningen, Radboud ) universities.

Lastly, it's interesting to have a look at the companies who have made contributions in the early days, but are no longer around or invested in the solar industry, like Kodak , RCA , Mobil Solar and Solarex .

One thing that's for sure, is that new tech developments are still rapidly and steadily improving the efficiency of solar cells and we can expect much better results in the future. Which research institutes and which technologies will drive these advancements? And when will we see Chinese institutes and companies penetrate this list? (will we at all?)

Time will tell...