It is likely that you have heard about solar cells with much higher efficiencies, and might have read about efficiencies close to 40% being achieved in limited pilots or in labs.
These are mainly from the concentrating photovoltaics technology.
Concentrating PV technology concentrates more sunlight onto a unit area of solar cells, resulting in much higher efficiency of sunlight conversion to electricity. CPV typically uses lenses or mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto high-efficiency solar cells.
These kinds of solar cells are typically more expensive than the cells used in conventional photovoltaic systems. The concentration of sunlight decreases the required cell area while increasing the cell efficiency. This technology has potential for solar cell efficiencies greater than 40% using concentrating mirrors to compete with alternative solar technologies. Real life efficiencies have already touched 35%.
Please note however that, owing to their high cost of deployment, CPV is still a niche technology and is not commercially deployed on any scale anywhere in the world, as of mid 2016
You Might Want to Check Out these Questions Too on Types of Solar Panels
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- What are CdTe (Cadmium Telluride ) Thin Film Solar Cells? Are These Commercially Available?-Here
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- What is a Transparent Solar Cell? And What are Its Advantages Over Conventional Cells?-Here
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- What is the Smallest Sized Solar Panel Available Currently?-Here
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- What are n-type Solar Cells? And how are they Different from p-type Cells?-Here
- What are Multi-junction Solar Cells? How are They Different from Conventional Solar Cells?-Here