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Chinese university and US firms hit solar power milestone

SCUT, Phillips 66 and Solarmer Energy set record in OPV cell efficiency

The development is a breakthrough for OPV cell technology

Chinese University and two US firms have set a world record in solar power conversion efficiency. South China University of Technology (SCUT), Texan Phillips 66 and California’s Solarmer Energy, claim that they have achieved the most efficient power conversion for polymer-based organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells.

The record efficiency that stands at 9.31 per cent was certified by the Newport Technology & Application Centre’s Photovoltaic Laboratory in California.

Byron Johnson, manager of Sustainability Technologies at Phillips 66, said: “The breakthrough in efficiency offers a good opportunity for the commercialisation of the organic photovoltaic technology”.

“This marks an important milestone for the industry and has the potential to deliver truly low-cost energy for the world,” he said.

The cell utilises a polymer jointly developed by Solarmer and Phillips 66, combined with the interface technology developed at South China University of Technology.

Professor Hongbin Wu at the University of Technology, said: “Our interface technology results in a marked improvement in OPV cell efficiency and is compatible with the roll-to-roll process, which is critical for manufacturing high efficiency and low-cost OPV cells on a large scale”.

According to a market research report from company IDTechEx, OPV is lightweight, provides an easy manufacturing process and performs well in low light. These qualities make it potentially economical renewable energy technology.

The news from SCUT is the latest major development for OPV technology. It comes after a series of US government scientists built a 170sq cm organic photovoltaic module in February 2012.