Panasonic surpasses SolarCity with world's most efficient solar panel

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The Panasonic Solar Ark in Ohmori, Japan is one of the largest solar buildings in the world and houses the Solar Lab, a museum of solar energy.

Credit: Panasonic

It hopes to begin shipping the panels in mid-2016

Panasonic's Eco Solutions division today announced the launch of what it is calling the most powerful photovoltaic panel in the world.

The new prototype solar panel has a solar energy conversion efficiency of 22.5% on a commercial-sized module. The prototype was built using solar cells based on mass-production technology, Panasonic said.

Last year, Panasonic announced it had achieved a photovoltaic cell efficiency rating of 25.6%.

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Panasonic's highest efficiency solar cell, which was announced last year and has an energy conversion rating of 25.6%

"This new record on module-level efficiency adds to the 25.6% efficiency record achieved last year at cell-level. The new panel efficiency record demonstrates once again Panasonic's...ongoing commitment to move the needle in advanced solar technology," Daniel Roca, senior business developer at Panasonic Eco Solutions Europe, said in a statement.

The latest advance, in theory, allows Panasonic to squeak past SolarCity as having the most efficient solar panel in the world. SolarCity announced last week that it had achieved an efficiency rating of 22.04% in panels that it will begin manufacturing this month.

However, Panasonic's solar panels are based on "thin-layer" solar cells, which are more expensive to produce than the standard solar cells being used by SolarCity.

Panasonic was also unable to give a date for when its panels would be used in commercial solar panels. However, it did say it's planning for a mid- to late-2016 release time.

The new solar panel test results were confirmed by the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Panasonic said.

The 72-cell, 270-watt prototype solar module incorporates "newly developed enhanced technology" that will eventually be scaled to volume production, Panasonic said.

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