The race is on as Panasonic snatches lead as most efficient solar panel

panasonic most efficient panel

Panasonic snatch the title for most efficient panel from Sunpower.

Well that didn’t take long! No sooner had we published our article on SunPower grabbing the unofficial prize of most efficient solar panel for commercial use, than Japanese manufacturer Panasonic surprises with a late sprint to the line.

The Japanese manufacturer has now jumped into the lead in the solar conversion Premier League with not one but two records. The new record, which was verified by the Japanese government-funded National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, is an eye-catching photovoltaic module conversion efficiency of 23.8 percent. This leaves SunPower’s previous record in the dust by a full percentage point.

According to the official Panasonic press release [ready for this?]. “Panasonic developed a unique silicon heterojunction structure composed of crystalline silicon substrate and amorphous silicon layers, and has continuously improved its photovoltaic module HIT using silicon heterojunction since the start of commercial production. This new record was achieved by further development of Panasonic‘s proprietary heterojunction technology for high-efficiency solar cells and modules adopting a back-contact solar cell structure.”

Thankfully the solar company provides a couple of techie explainers.

Heterojunction structure means the

“Technology for junction formation required for solar cells that covers the silicon base surface with an amorphous silicon layer. This technology has the key feature of superior passivation to compensate for the many flaws around the silicon base surface area.”

Back contact solar cell structure is

“Technology for eliminating the shadow loss on the front side electrode with the electrodes on the back of the solar cell, which allows the more efficient utilization of sunlight.”

The group who stand to benefit most from the intense competition to build the most efficient solar panel is, of course, solar panel customers. However as SolarQuotes head Finn Peacock explained in our last blog post, while efficiency improvements result in significant energy savings over a period of time for households, the initial up-front cost may make them unsuitable for a lot of potential customers.

Good points. However as he added this week: “Nothing stands still in solar technology, progress marches on,” and this is backed up by the new records falling almost weekly as the big solar players elbow each other for the final sprint home.

So, lots to digest as we absorb the latest manufacturer to hold the glory, fame and money-spinning unofficial title of most efficient solar panel. With our very own University of NSW holding the world record (laboratory) at 25 percent, how long before developers and researchers hit the magic 30 percent mark?


  1. What ever happened to the 3D solar cell? I heard a lot of numbers and presumptions about the technology yet it is still to see the light of day?.

  2. Hey gents –

    That’s excellent news. This came across my feed yesterday:

    One of their test rigs will be on top of a TPO roof, which is the setting for many US RV solar systems, and I imagine Oz too. Bifacials could be excellent for the RV solar situation, mitigating the usual RV roof overtemp situation. Be interesting to see the data that comes out of this! Seen any credible figures on bifacial PV panel output?

  3. Tom Martin says

    Are the Panasonic HIT Power N325SA16 or 335W panels available in Australia yet. I would like to buy 11 and ship them to Hawaii. Any Ideas on who may be able to sell them to me and ship them to honolulu?

  4. Have you heard of Solar Schutten -photovotaic modue STP6-260/60. I am supposed to have trina honey panels TSM260 PCO5A installed tomorrow and the installer has left Solar Schutten and I can’t find anything about that brand.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Jo, if you have been quoted for tier one Trina panels and they install Solar Schutten, which are not what you agreed to and which are definitely not tier one, then that is as dodgy as hell. Ring them first thing and clarify what is going on. Do not let them install Solar Schutten instead of Trina. If I asked for Trina panels and they installed Schutten I definitely would not pay.

      If they say there is small print on your agreement that lets them change the panels tell them that’s not what you agreed to. It is called bait and switch and will not stand up in court. Don’t be afraid to tell them you won’t pay if you don’t get Trina.

      Let me know what happens and let me know the name of the company.

      If you’d prefer to communicate by email mine is: [email protected]

  5. Hi Ronald, Thanks for your prompt reply. The company is Solar Arc from Baulkham Hills in Sydney 1300762555. I have left them a message this morning (it always goes to message bank,) letting them know I don’t want the schutten panels . this installation was supposed to be done in the first week of December but they said they are so busy. I am concious that the rebate changes on 1st of January so not sure how that will affect us if installed after that date. We were going to pay it off but when approached by another company we realised the savings by paying cash, Their cash quote is $7400.00. The other company salesman from powerhouse solar from prestons in Sydney have said they will install for $1000.00 less and they say they have the Trina and can do it on 28th december and with 3 extra panels. We have requested a 5kw SMA inverter as this seems to be the best. I have not accepted the lower quote as I signed with solar arc and felt committed to them however, now that they cannot supply I am wondering what I should do. I don’t want to be sued for breach of contract but I do want the installation done this year. Have not heard from the company yet. Any suggestions as to what I should do.
    Regards from Jo

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hello Jo. If you have agreed to pay them a set amount for installing your solar system then that shouldn’t change if they don’t get it done before the end of the year. If they don’t get the job done on time, with the panels you agreed to, then the decrease in STCs should be their problem not years. I don’t know the details of your agreement, but they shouldn’t be able to spring a price increase on you out of the blue because they couldn’t get things done on time.

      The one fifteenth decrease in STCs that is occurring should not be a huge deal, and if you haven’t seen it, I wrote about how it is not likely to make a huge difference here:

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