The Boeing Company has announced it is commencing mass production of its high efficiency solar cell, the C3MJ+. Boeing claims a conversion efficiency of 39.2 percent, the industry’s highest-efficiency cell.
Don't expect to see these solar cells in regular solar panels though - the C3MJ+ is a concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) cell. CPV systems focus sunlight onto a small area of solar photovoltaic materials to generate electricity and are most commonly used in utility scale solar farms.
Spectrolab, a wholly owned subsidiary of Boeing, drew on its 50-year history of manufacturing solar cells for space and terrestrial applications to develop the cell. The company set a new world record for efficiency last year with a test solar cell with a peak conversion efficiency of 41.6 percent.
Russ Jones, Spectrolab director of CPV Business Development, says the company is going into production with essentially the same technology and plan to deliver the first of these 39.2 percent efficient C3MJ+ cells in January.
Boeing says Spectrolab has introduced mass production of a new series of solar cells with increased energy-conversion efficiency each year since 2007.
Spectrolab solar products have powered satellites since 1958 and today Spectrolab solar cells power 60 percent of all satellites orbiting the Earth, as well as the International Space Station, NASA's solar powered Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer and the Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.
Spectrolab aims to achieve 40 percent average production efficiency for terrestrial solar cells in 2011.