Solar cell breakthrough could let solar cars travel over 450 miles at a time

Science boffins at start-up Semprius have found a manufacturing method that will allow them to stack solar cells to improve efficiency.

By piling the solar cells on top of each other they will be able to cram enough into solar panels to offer 50 per cent more efficiency over current models. Current solar cells generally convert less than 25 per cent of the sun's energy into electricity.

A solar car called Sunswift eVe was recently built by students which holds a long distance speed record. It held an average speed of 62mph over a distance of 310 miles. That's a greater range than a Tesla Model S. Imagine the possibilities with these new, more efficient, solar cells. An extra 50 percent should give them a range of over 450 miles.

The new manufacturing method allow for a cheap, fast and efficient way to build the solar panels. Using a new kind of glue each cell can be connected to one another. The cells themselves are just millimetres across. These methods help reduce costs for cooling while at the same time improving efficiency.

The Semprius solar cells built this year have achieved an efficiency as high as 44.1 per cent.

The US Energy Information Administration says the new natural gas power plants will produce electricity at 6.4 cents per kilowatt-hour. These new solar panels should be able to do so at less than 5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

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