October 16, 2006 9:31 AM PDT

SunPower boosts solar panel output

SunPower, which makes solar cells and panels, says it has boosted the efficiency and size of its solar panels, yielding substantially more electricity than current panels.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company on Monday announced its second-generation, higher-power product at the Solar Power 2006 conference, and the panels are expected to be in mass production next year.

SunPower says it has managed to increase efficiency of the silicon cells from 20 percent to 22 percent. Further, the 5-foot by 3-and-a-half-foot panels will pack 96 individual cells within them, compared to the 72 contained in the company?s current product.

Overall, these changes result in a 43 percent increase in power, said Julie Blunden, vice president of external affairs at SunPower. Each panel can generate 315 watts of electricity and will have roughly the same cost per watt as the existing line, she said.

The theoretical limit of monocrystalline silicon cell efficiency is about 25 percent, Blunden said.

Other companies are developing solar photovoltaic manufacturing techniques around other materials, notably CIGS (copper indium gallium selenide).

But SunPower, which is owned by Cypress Semiconductor, intends to continue investing in higher solar efficiency and ways to lower the cost of installation, Blunden said.

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43% increase is wrong.
The right increase percentage is 38.94736%.

Posted by charlie_c (5 comments )
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38.94736% increase is wrong
The correct increase percentage is 38.947362%.
Posted by kakodes_too (20 comments )
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no, you are incorrect
Probably used the wrong denominator.
Posted by Sonicsands (43 comments )
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Solar/Wind power? Don't think so.
I don't quite get why people get so excited about wind/solar power. The energy it produces is so little compared to the growth of civilization's demands. Not to mention they're extremely cost inefficient but the real question is will they supply us for another 50 years? I doubt it.

Certainly we should protect the environment. But instead we should focus on eliminating coal/oil energy plants which are responsible for most of the pollution and replace them with efficient and powerful alternatives that could meet the future supply.

In that sense, I am confident that the only real solution is nuclear power based on a far modern design (such as: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_amplifier" target="_newWindow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_amplifier</a> ). Fusion might be long way ahead but fission energy can be far greener than the public thinks.
Posted by atici (63 comments )
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The only problem is there is a limited amount uranium. We replace one nonrenewable resource for another. How does that solve the problem?
Posted by sabot96 (24 comments )
Link Flag
Solar/Wind Power
Coud not agree more. Beyond the cost of solar and wind is the environmental impact of the huge land masses required for the plants and the trashing of the environment getting the power from where the sun and wind are to where the people are. It's not a very attractive alternative. Small, widely dispersed, modern nuclear is the "greenist" power we now have.
Posted by oconnmic (28 comments )
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Solar/Wind ? I think so.
And from this mind set we see why we are in the situation that we are. Solar and wind power is getting stronger and stronger by the day, I understand that it is an expensive application but if you were spending more time trying to be part of the solution instead of the problem than more people would follow instead of doubting it's capabilities because there reading the crap that people as yourself are putting out on the web.Then the economy to scale would shift to a more favorable liking. Please understand it works and its free, why do you think that you would have to line your whole house with solar, why not just add enough to effectively reduce the demand on your home, then that nosy neighbor will and so on and so forth, and the money you are not giving to the power company will effectively pay for the system.So if the problem is that you can't afford it then settle down and wait for the rest of the world to get the cost down "you know those of us who aren't complaining". Oh yeah and one more thing just what do you suggest we replace coal/oil plants with? you can't possibly be serious about Nuclear plant's HMM!!! where do you suggest we build these plant's. Fusion, can anyone say "IMPLOSION" no thanks.And yes I work in renewables every day! I'm not mad at you just make sense please.
Posted by superdawg1 (2 comments )
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Thats because your a nucklehead and you haven't crunched the numbers, its not little , don't forget that your not always using what is being generated so some one else uses it , in that way more energy is being produced than you think, and if everyone eventually jumps on the band wagon we'll be gaining more power for growth just by lowering power consumption through solar means. We also have geothermal technology which we haven't even scratched the surface on energy savings yet.
Posted by ROBERTMOSSMAN (3 comments )
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Don't think so,
You seem confused, solar won't work but we need to get rid of coal/oil plants and replace with what?? Solar thats what I have my house independent from the utility company. So I'm no longer the problem, are you still using electricity from a coal/oil plant???
Posted by azgg01 (1 comment )
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All power is solar.
All energy on the Earth is solar. Oil and coal are just dead plants that lived off of solar energy. Winds are driven by solar heating. Hydro electric is powered by solar evaporated water re condensing as rain on higher land. Even nuclear power came from the core of old dead stars.

The key is to learn to use the energy we have in a more efficient manner. Using solar panels for shingles is still too expensive (The more of us who do it, the cheaper it will get). Everyone can add insulation to there houses and upgrade/calk there windows.

Over the long term we can not use more energy than the total solar output collected by the Earth. Anything we burn more than that is deficit spending.
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
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You can also argue all power is nuclear, as the power of Sun is a product of that. And it would actually make more sense.

&gt;Over the long term we can not use more energy than the total solar output collected by the Earth.

Not necessarily. It depends on how long term you're talking about. Have you heard of Kardashav Scale, Dyson Sphere? In any case the solar energy output could hardly be nonneglible in the near future unless entire cities are covered by panels. And consequently by the time we reach the sufficient wind/solar plant know-how, their output will be inconsequential.
Posted by atici (63 comments )
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You are an absolute idiot.
Posted by spacebuff (2 comments )
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Let's harness human flatulence.
It's renewable, and entertaining.
Posted by francissawyer (54 comments )
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Gives new meaning...
...to the phrase gas turbine generator. I sure don't want to be on the "cutting" edge of that technology! :)
Posted by J_Satch (571 comments )
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Please back up your point with facts.
If you want to call me an idiot that is cool.

However you will look like one yourself if you don't point out any flaws in my thinking. The arguments I am making were first proposed by Freeman Dyson, a gentleman considered to be one of the smartest men alive.

With a name like spacebuff I would think you would know who he is.

You sir, may not be an idiot, however if you study hard you one day may reach that level of intelligences.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freeman_Dyson" target="_newWindow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freeman_Dyson</a>
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
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Never mind. Double post.
When will Cnet fix there messae system?
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
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Solar Power
Some of these comments are well wide of the mark. The time for dissecting or correcting each other's input is past. I know people who already have solar and water self sufficient housing. It is time to act. It is already possible. If you live in a country that consumes up to 30 per cent of OUR planet's resources then it is especially incumbent on you to make a difference right now.
Posted by m.o.t.u. (96 comments )
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more too it
There is more to solar and wind than meets the eye or the article.
My wife and I lived aboard our sailboat for almost 8 years relying on solar and wind for our energy requirements. Admittedly, we were working with a 12 VDC system, but the principle is the same for higher voltages. The panels we used were about the same size as the article and generated 51 watts each. We used 4 in parallel for a total panel output of 204 watts. But that was 12 amps @ 17.2 VDC (I know, that comes out to 206.4 watts). We had a voltage limiter installed which fed our batteries a max of 14.8 volts so we would not cook them.. So the actual usable output was about 177.6 watts. Our efficiency was therefore, 86 % based on available to actual. The rest was lost to heat.
Our windmill put out about 70 watts @ 10 knots of wind, and supplemented our solar, especially on overcast (&#38; windy) days. There were times when we had to supplement wind/solar with our diesel engine, but with the massive house battery bank we had aboard, we could go for 4 days before we had to run the engine. We could also charge out starting batteries at the same time, if needed.
With the new breed of solar panels, one would have been sufficient for our daily energy requirement of 1.2 KW. We had TV, stereo, navigation instruments (GPS (2), Loran), 3 VHF radios, autopilot, inverter for small power tools, etc., but we were energy conscious, too.
To supply energy using wind/solar for a community, it must be converted into a useable form. Most present homes rely on the good old 120 VAC, and every time you convert to a different form of the energy, you lose a minimum of 10 %. It is therefore imperative that those conversion losses be kept to a minimum.
The major problem with energy today, is not that we dont have enough, but the population is growing to fast and generating excessive demand. When I was born, the population in this country was about 30 % of what it is today. The huge population growth plus all the so called convenience items on the market, including computers, cell phones, IPods, whatever, all contribute to energy demands. More people, more air conditioners, more washers, dryers, rechargeable devices and on &#38; on. And that is just this country. The same situation exists world wide.
I wouldnt quibble about the numbers in the article. Look further and apply some basic math and ask what the useable output is. Ask how the energy is converted to something that can be transported to where it is needed, and then, at the end of the pipeline, ask just how much of the 315 watts are available for use. I wouldnt be surprised that it is in the neighborhood of 60 %.
There is just a little more to it than numbers, young fellas.
Posted by captainjoe (1 comment )
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Thanks for adding some sanity back into the blogs... things were getting a bit foggy!

They were going off about nukes and methane gas? As an old guy myself? I don?t need to hear about flatulence? when Solar Power is such an elegant solution.

I opted to look into solar power... and I?m delighted I did!

It was amazingly simple? and financially rewarding!

I called the two companies that use the nice SunPower 200 watt units.... (black... aesthetics are important on top of my home (I don?t care for the industrial look of the more common panels)).

NextEnergy (SF Bay Area... very much like Akeena Solar) gave the best analysis... and bid!

They did all the work and took care of all the permits? and rebates ($$$).

They were even going to arrange for financing? but if I?ve got nothing? I?ve got credit!

It was a real eye opener!

I now have a 4.2 KW panel on my roof? and am signed up with PG&#38;E as a power provider (zero net metering).

If a few of these gas bags took a few minutes? to call for a free analysis? (yes? free!)

They could enjoy the same revelation that we did? Solar deserves a serious discussion.

Thanks again!

My sister saw our unit and purchased a system herself... Very happy? and truly feeling all green

My monthly payments have yet to exceed my old PG&#38;E bills? with the delightful difference that they are capital dollars (going into my pocket)? instead of expense dollars? and the investment has added real value to our property? TAX FREE.

The analysis will evaluate your usage? and calculate how many years it takes to pay off the system? before your power is completely free (So now I will be able to remain retired? every time there a rate increase? it?s like getting a pay raise).

I would encourage everyone with a concern for their wallet to call for a free estimate?

Solar power deserves a serious discussion... I bought in... and I love it!
Posted by crus8er (2 comments )
Link Flag
Proven results
One practical use of solar power that has been around for decades... the calculator. Some watch makers have been cashing in on this as well. I wouldn't mind a watch where I never have to replace the battery. These items are small scale, but atleast it's a start.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
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High efficiency might be meaningless
Efficiency could be meaningless if the panel has a poor negative tolerance rating ! Their 200 and 215 watt solar panels only had a negative 8 percent negative tolerance rating.

Many solar panels on the market have a better negative 5 percent tolerance rating (Lower is better) For example their 215 watt solar panel has a negative 8% tolerance so this manufacturer would only guaranty that you would get 197.8 watts right out of the box even though you paid for 215 watts.

It says so right on their specification sheet, see (peak power tolerance) So if this new panel only has a peak power tolerance of negative 8 percent, you would be paying for 315 watts but they will only guaranty that you'll get 289.8 watts right out of the box. So much for efficiency !
Posted by ronwinton (9 comments )
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The solution to the "energy" problem is not "big" it is "small". Each individual has to make an effort. Large nuclear power generating plants are NOT the solution, nor are any large power generating plants - this outdated concept only puts the "power" in the hands of the rich. Unusable material from nuclear power plants stays dangerous for tens of thousands of years and provides weapons to those who want to do others harm. Each individual must be given the power to provide their own energy needs through education, and ethical governmental leadership. If "we the people" of this country (the U.S). really wanted to, we could change our lives for the betterment of all. A major change in living style MUST happen, particularly in the "developed" nations such as the U.S. - particularly in the U.S. - an energy glutton - yes, we are: huge massive "buses" for each soccer mom to drive - power boats and other energy suckers used for petrol sports, 5000 plus square foot wooden castles with 3 garages for all the suv's and humvees - ridiculous. Wind power works, so does solar power - if you have not tried it and say it won't work, you speak with empty words and an empty mind and show it. If our government spent as much money and political effort developing alternative energy sources such as solar power and wind power for the individual as they do on the hate and death of war, we would be far better off.
Posted by the_piano_man (53 comments )
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Jesus...I know this thread is a few years old - I was just on here looking for efficiency ratings on the SP 215 panel, because the new spec sheet on SP's site does not specifically list the negative tolerance rating and my system is putting out substantially less power than it is rated for. And then.....as I should have known I'd find, I run into this lefty tripe. Right down to telling us what size house we should have, what to drive, and how much energy we can use. Mind your own damn business, and enjoy driving your cereal box around. This is America, not some Commie country where you are told how to live your life. I have a 8.12kW solar system on my house, but not to be green (which is also a farce), but for a decent ROI about 7yrs post purchase. WAKE UP LEFTIES!
Posted by J-man75 (1 comment )
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I just called this company and they would not price or sell me any panels. They told me they had to be installed by a dealer... This is half the reason solar panels are a long way from being cost efective. Too many greedy people with there hands in the cookie jar!!!
Posted by dsarti (1 comment )
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Not entirely true? there are good deals to be had on eBay? about $1.85 per watt.

You are correct? many sources will not sell to just anybody? but there are good reasons for concern. A photovoltaic system is DC (direct current)? which can pose some very serious fire and electrocution concerns.

I have three 7 panel arrays? and their combined voltages are 600 plus volts (4.2KW).

All DC should be run in substantial metal conduit? and well grounded, fused and alarmed.

My solar company threw in 5 years of free surveillance? in addition to their 25 year warranty on the panels and 15 years on the &lt;in-grid&gt; ?SunnyBoy? inverter.

I think it was all well worth all the additional expense.

I would really encourage you to contact a couple of good companies? for a free analysis. You will be surprised at how detailed their analysis is? and if nothing else it will get you 75% of the way through your design? and $$ savings is a real motivator!

BUT? you really can get a good system going for yourself?

If you want to take it all on yourself? design, permits? contracts with the power company? rebates (at least in California) your power company rebates might not apply? but you can cut overall system costs by about 40%... on eBay.

Check it out!

Good luck no matter what you decide?If you proceed? you will be delighted!

There is some real money to be saved!

Best regards,
Posted by crus8er (2 comments )
Link Flag
The cost for to decommissioning a nuclear power plant after his time life (of 25 to 35 years service) is a big burden. Great Britain is actually confronted to this problem, and Germany has stopped to build new nuclear power plant.
Posted by Ning711 (1 comment )
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Where are you going to put the nuclear waste in your neighborhood, 'cause I don't want it in mine? And, which insurance company is going to insure the power plant? Oh. Nobody wants to insure a nuclear power plant? How come?
Posted by jimwig9 (2 comments )
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