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The silver-free commercial-sized PV cells that rocked the world efficiency record

The Sydney-based solar technology start-up "SunDrive Solar" has developed a commercial-size silver-free silicon PV cell that elevated the new world record for the efficiency at which its solar cells convert sunlight to electricity to 25.54%.

"Silver is a core component in today’s solar panels. It is estimated solar panel manufacturing accounts for about 20% of the world’s annual consumption of the precious metal, with the volume expected to rise steeply as the next generation of high-efficiency cells currently being developed require up to three times more silver than their antecedents. Copper doesn’t have the same highly conductive properties as silver and does not adhere well to the surface of the solar cell but Allen, who along with former flatmate David Hu founded SunDrive in 2015, has found a solution. And a much more affordable one."

"The result is a major shake-up for the industry with China-based solar cell manufacturers topping the efficiency records in recent years. Manufacturing giant Longi Solar held the previous top mark for a commercial-size monocrystalline hetero-junction (HJT) solar cell, achieving 25.26% during testing at ISFH earlier this year. While SunDrive celebrated the world record, the company’s technology – which replaces the expensive silver used in conventional solar cells with the cheaper and more abundant copper – could have greater ramifications, potentially lowering the manufacturing cost of solar PV panels."

"In terms of our timeline, we're planning to have a commercial-sized module containing our solar cells at the end of this year, which is representative of what we could put on a roof or in a solar farm," Allen said. "We're also focused on building our pilot production line by end of next year with panels ready maybe by the first half of 2023."

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