Solar panel efficiency defines the amount of sunlight that can be converted by the panel into usable electricity. Solar panel efficiencies for a panel depends on the cell type, manufacturer and size of the panel. A list of solar panel efficiencies of top panel manufacturers (as of end 2015) based on cell type is given as follows:
Type of solar panel – Panel efficiency (%)
- Monocrystalline 17 – 23
- Polycrystalline 14-17
- Thin Film 7-16
It is worthwhile to note that the efficiencies mentioned above are for mass-produced panels. But a number of manufacturers have managed to obtain greater efficiencies in research labs
A key point to be noted is that a solar panel of 1 MW with higher efficiency doesn’t generate more electricity than a 1 MW solar panel with a lower efficiency. In fact, regardless of the efficiency, a 1 MW solar panel generates the same amount of electricity.
However, a high efficiency 1 MW solar panel requires less area than a 1 MW panel with a lower efficiency.
Solar panel efficiencies are provided under standard Testing Conditions (STC), which are listed below.
Standard Testing Conditions
- Temperature = 25ᵒC
- Incoming solar radiation (Insolation) = 1000W/m2
- Air mass ratio (AM) = 1.5. AM represents a coefficient that accounts for the scattering of light as it passes through the atmosphere, and changes in sun angle that in turn affect solar radiation.
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