SolarCity plans to manufacture its high-efficiency solar panels starting at the company’s new Buffalo, New York plant next year, but even those panels are only expected to convert 22.1 percent of sunlight into usable electricity. Panasonic isn’t quite as far along in its development, but the company has created a prototype of a commercial-sized solar panel that boasts a 22.5 percent conversion efficiency. And we don’t have to take Panasonic’s word for it; the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology has confirmed it in testing.
Although it will be a while before Panasonic’s most efficient solar panels can be put into mass production, the company isn’t holding its proverbial breath. It is gearing up to launch the HIT® N330, the latest addition to the company’s high-efficiency hetero-junction photovoltaic module product line, with a 19.7 percent module-level efficiency rate. And then Panasonic’s most powerful PV module to date will be available in the UK and other European markets starting in March 2016.