Amonix Claims 39% Cell Efficiency for Its Concentrating Photovoltaic Solar Panels
Kleiner Perkins Invests $129.4 Million in the Californian Company
Are venture capitalists un-tightening their grips on their wallets? In what is one of the biggest green deals of the year so far, the uber-VCs at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers have decided to invest $129.4 million dollars in Amonix, a firm that specializes in concentrating photovoltaic solar power.
"In the Amonix system, plastic Fresnel lenses collect sunlight and concentrate it to 500 times its usual intensity onto very small, highly-efficient III-V multijunction solar cells." According to the firm, this allows them to get an impressive 39% conversion efficiency at the cell level (DC current) and about 23-25% at the system level (AC current).
Unlike many other concentrating solar technologies, Amonix panels don't use water, a big benefit if you install them in a desert.
Because the actual solar cells are much smaller than in a non-concentrating setup, they can be more advanced without running the cost of the whole system too much. Amonix uses II-V multijunction cells:
Amonix was one of the first organizations to bring III-V multijunction cell technology down to Earth. Originally developed for space-based applications, III-V multijunction cells represent a step-change improvement in performance and reliability over their silicon counterparts.
Using three different photovoltaic materials in a single cell, they extract more energy from the range of wavelengths in sunlight. This enables them to produce a significant increase in voltage, while losing less energy to heat. As a result, they provide the solar industry's highest efficiencies. Under concentration, this can exceed 39% in volume production (over 41% in world-record demonstrations).
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