PV world record tumbles as UNSW looks to wrap up series

Suntech and UNSW logos

Suntech and The UNSW team up and kick solar ass!

Aussies love awards and stellar achievements. Particularly when we’re on the receiving end. Best and fairest, most valuable player, player of the series, best supporting actor, Treasurer of the Year (hang on!) and so the list goes on. Our collective chests burst with pride when we hear of the achievements and world records of our sports and silver screen idols and this gives us a sense of playing on the world stage with the big boys/girls.

But what of our achievement in solar energy? Here the achievements are no less astonishing (and cause for chest-bursting pride) though perhaps not as trumpeted in our erstwhile media. Indeed unless you looked carefully this week, you would have missed the announcement that the PV research department at our very own University of New South Wales (UNSW) have combined with Suntech — the world’s largest manufacturer of solar PV modules — to set a new world record for conversion efficiency for solar cells.

According to a report in Energy Matters, the UNSW/Suntech team achieved the record by reaching a 20.3 percent efficiency rating based on a commercial-type wafer which is “suitable for mass production”. This beat the previous record of 19.6 percent and presumably broke some sort of psychological barrier by reaching the 20 percent mark. Much like the four minute mile?

The managing director of Suntech R&D Australia, Renate Egan, whose team work closely with the grand final winners… renowned research team at UNSW, described the world record as the result of experiments based around the “so-called “second generation” of the Pluto high-efficiency solar cells”. However true to good old Aussie ingenuity and determination, the team are not satisfied with smashing the 20 percent mark and are now looking to ascend higher levels of excellence in solar research, aiming at an efficiency rate of 23 percent.

So will we see our victorious team of research scientists being driven around the Sydney Cricket Ground at grand final time? Or feted with a ticker tape parade down George Street? Well don’t hold your breath. Don’t ask me why.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie.


  1. New generation of super thin solar cells promise half price solar power | Solar Power Blog says:

    […] week’s column brought you the latest, world-record-breaking achievements of the University of NSW. This week, […]

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