The module, which was tested and certified by the Instituto de Energía Solar at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (IES-UPM), is the world's most efficient, surpassing the previous world record of 32 percent.
Semprius claims the design of its HCPV module enables the company to create a solar cell the size of a pencil point (the world's smallest) which results in modules with "unmatched efficiency and performance."
“This is a significant milestone for Semprius and the entire PV industry,” said Scott Burroughs, vice president of Technology at Semprius. For the first time, we have been able to convert more than one-third of the sun’s energy into usable electricity. This demonstrates how concentrated PV can leverage rapidly increasing efficiencies to continue driving down the cost of solar generated electricity.”
Achieving this milestone might be a silver lining to a recently darkened view of U.S. government supported renewable energy companies. In 2009, as part of the Stimulus package, Semprius, which is based out of Durham, NC, was awarded $500,000 for the development of their solar technology from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
At that time CEO Joe Carr said, “We are very pleased to have been selected for this award, which will allow us to better match the optics and the micro-cells within our modules.”
Since receiving that money Semprius has been consistently picking up momentum. In 2010, NREL awarded the company a $3 million subcontract to commercialize its solar technology. After successfully installing the first-microcell-based HCPV Research and Development & Demonstration system in Arizona as part of a joint development agreement with Siemens in December 2010, Semprius secured $20 million in the first round of Series C fundraising in June 2011. Siemens, which had acquired a 16 percent share of Semprius two weeks before, led the investment round.
The company recieved more support the following month when it was awarded $7.88 million to construct its first commercial production plant. The 50,000 square foot facility, located in Henderson, North Carolina is currently under construction and is expected to be completed in the summer of 2012.
Finally, earlier this month, Semprius closed its latest round of funding adding another $3 million.
At this point, it may be too early to call Semprius a success story as the company is still working its way to commercial production. However, relative to the current perception of government-backed renewable energy companies, Semprius symoblizes a glowing success.
Yes, the $3.5 million Semprius has received from the DOE pales in comparison to the $118.5 the Department awarded lithium-battery developer Ener1, Inc. which filed for bankruptcy protection last week. Nevertheless, when looking at new technology development in the United States it may be important to see the companies who are picking up steam.
Without the initial government support, who is to say that Semprius would be where they are today - breaking world records and drawing interest from private investors like Siemens?
Commenting on the record breaking module Marin Pfund, CEO of the Siemens Energy Photovoltaic Business Unit simply said, “Semprius as a leader in HCPV modules shows us that we have bet on the right technology.”
Image Credit: OregonDOT via Flickr
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