Blue Square Energy announced today that they have developed silicon solar cells that hit 14.6 percent efficiency. While this might not sound like a big deal compared to other silicon photovoltaic solar cells, Blue Square Energy’s neat trick is that their cells use a lower grade (and therefore much cheaper) type of silicon. Their cells are made from upgraded metallurgical grade (UMG) silicon – the 14.6 percent efficiency is one of the highest efficiencies shown to date with UMG made cells.
Blue Square Energy calls its patent-pending process Bright Point, and their process differs from the other companies also exploring solar cells made from UMG. The Bright Point cells consist of very thin layer of high grade solar grade silicon on top of the much cheaper 4N UMG silicon. Other companies building UMG cells are blending small amounts of the cheaper UMG silicon with the expensive solar grade stuff, which doesn’t result in that much cost reduction for a their solar panels compared to traditional silicon solar cells. Blue Square Energy, on the other hand, is claiming much larger cost reductions for solar panels made from their process.
Click the link for the press release.