From pv magazine USA
Solar power’s development was greatly influenced by spaceflight, as solar power was the only practical source of long-term electricity in low-earth orbit. Sputnik, the world’s first satellite, stopped transmitting after three weeks when the chemical batteries failed. The USA’s first satellite, also battery powered, lasted a few months.
The below satellite, the Vanguard 3, is from the family of the first satellites to utilize solar power. The Vanguard 1 delivered data from 1958 into 1965. And it was this satellite that made us believe in the potential of space.
Starting from these expensive, and challenging, markets – cost effective solar modules for our rooftops and fields have evolved. However, while the general populace’s focus – and financier’s – has shifted to those bigger markets, these more demanding markets still exist, are expanding and are at the cutting edge of solar photovoltaic technology.
Alta Devices has received certification of a new world record efficiency for a single junction solar cell (specification page – pdf). The Fraunhofer ISE CalLab certified the solar cell at 29.1%. This value is 0.2% higher than Alta Devices’ (outlined in red below) prior noted record in NREL’s Best Research-Cell Efficiencies (pdf) charts. Alta Devices told pv magazine that manufacturing samples of the product are regularly in the 27% range.