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Solar  photovoltaic cells (PV) offer the promise to bring electrical energy to  areas not served by grid systems and have a minimal environmental  impact. Unfortunately the energy collected by PV is currently too  inefficient to be a viable option.
PV cells are made of semiconductor materials which must absorb sunlight to produce electricity (U.S. EIA, 2018);

When photons strike a PV cell, they may  reflect off the cell, pass through the cell, or be absorbed by the  semiconductor material. Only the absorbed photons provide energy to  generate electricity. When the semiconductor material absorbs enough  sunlight (solar energy), electrons are dislodged from the material’s  atoms.
The theoretical maximum efficiency of a PV system which does not  track the sun’s movement and concentrate the solar energy using mirrors  is approximately 55% (Byrnes, 2013). The following graph represents the  maximum efficiencies of various PV within five semiconductor families;  Multijunction cells, Single-junction gallium arsenide cells, Crystalline  silicon cells, Thin-film technologies, and Emerging photovoltaics  (NREL, 2019);

Flags on the right hand side of the graph represent the current  maximum efficiency for a further 28 subcategories. Manufacturers which  obtained each record efficiency are noted in bold. The highest  efficiency is noted at 46% and was achieved in 2014. This was a  collaborative effort between Soitec and CEA-Leti, France, and the  Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Germany (Fraunhofer,  2014).
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). (January, 2019). Best research-cell efficiency chart. [PDF File]. Retrieved from
New world record for solar cell efficiency at 46%. (January,  2014). Fraunhofer ISE. Retrieved from
Solar explained. Photovoltaics and electricity. (April,  2018) U.S. Energy Information Administration (U.S. EIA). Retrieved from
Byrnes, S. (November, 2013). Why are solar panels so inefficient? Retrived from

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