Sharp Making High-Efficiency Solar Cell

When you think of Sharp, what comes to mind? Maybe Blu-ray players or LCD TVs, or microwave ovens or any of an endless number of home electronics. But the company has long been a big player in the solar power, and it’s fighting hard to maintain its position, pumping $180 million into the manufacture of a newly designed solar cell.

Sharp said it will boost its production capacity by 200 megawatts making modules based on a single crystalline solar cell that departs from the norm by connecting the electrodes on the back side of the panel. “This new structure increases the light-receiving area on the front-side’s surface,” Sharp said. The company added that “new alignment technology” would trim the connection resistance between adjacent cells.

Sharp, high-efficiency solar cell

image via Sharp

Reuters quotes the company saying the cells offer a 17 percent conversion rate, a hefty jump over the standard 14 percent. In September, Sharp announced its intention to extend its role in the photovoltaic market, acquiring the San Francisco-based solar developer Recurrent Energy to help it develop and market utility-scale power projects.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.