A team of researchers at the University of New South Wales has broken its own record for photovoltaic efficiency. This advance comes through use of what are called “multi-junction” solar cells that use prisms to split sunlight across its spectrum, to hit multiple receptors targeted at different wavelengths.
Multi-junction solar cells of this type are unlikely to find their way onto the rooftops of homes and offices soon, as they require more effort to manufacture and therefore cost more than standard crystalline silicon cells with a single junction. But the UNSW team is working on new techniques to reduce the manufacturing complexity, and create cheaper multi-junction cells.
However, the spectrum-splitting approach is perfect for solar towers, like those being developed by Australia’s RayGen Resources, which use mirrors to concentrate sunlight which is then converted directly into electricity.
So this is currently an advancement for centralized solar power, but for all I prefer distributed models, some centralized, high-output generators will certainly be needed if we’re to transition to a society that relies more heavily on electricity for things like transportation.