New World Record Set For Solar Efficiency: 31.25%


On a perfect New Mexico winter day — with the sky almost 10 percent brighter than usual — Sandia National Laboratories and Stirling Energy Systems (SES) set a new solar-to-grid system conversion efficiency record by achieving a 31.25 percent net efficiency rate. The old 1984 record of 29.4 percent was toppled Jan. 31 on SES’s “Serial #3” solar dish Stirling system at Sandia’s National Solar Thermal Test Facility.

The conversion efficiency is calculated by measuring the net energy delivered to the grid and dividing it by the solar energy hitting the dish mirrors. Auxiliary loads, such as water pumps, computers and tracking motors, are accounted for in the net power measurement.
“Gaining two whole points of conversion efficiency in this type of system is phenomenal,” says Bruce Osborn, SES president and CEO. “This is a significant advancement that takes our dish engine systems well beyond the capacities of any other solar dish collectors and one step closer to commercializing an affordable system.”

Serial #3 was erected in May 2005 as part of a prototype six-dish model power plant at the Solar Thermal Test Facility that produces up to 150 kilowatts (kW) of grid-ready electrical power during the day. Each dish unit consists of 82 mirrors formed in a dish shape to focus the light to an intense beam.

The solar dish generates electricity by focusing the sun’s rays onto a receiver, which transmits the heat energy to a Stirling engine. The engine is a sealed system filled with hydrogen. As the gas heats and cools, its pressure rises and falls. The change in pressure drives the pistons inside the engine, producing mechanical power, which in turn drives a generator and makes electricity.

Via: Sandia Press Release

6 thoughts on “New World Record Set For Solar Efficiency: 31.25%”

  1. “Many of these so-called innovators have the wonderful devices that have no future plan for release into the market.” That’s true Mr. Eric J we do see and hear many many innovative technologies which are claiming to change the way how we are now but every thing is at paper nothing is implemented nor changed, it’s because of
    1) They are no more people exist in this world who can invent and give it to the public at free of cost.
    2) Investors are not interested in the model where people can buy once and get the the life time electricity because this may destroy their present & future profits.

  2. I like the engine, I am proud of any better results, which take us closer to cleaner energy sources.
    About use of renewable energy sources:
    It always starts and finishes with the leadership. We have the leaders we deserve – we had elected. And current leaders prefer to spend $trillions in bloody wars all over the planet, than to spend them for better cause at home.

  3. It takes from 1984 til 2007, 23 years to make any improvement whatsoever in the World’s Best Solar Power efficiency?

    What are these clowns playing at. Sack that lot and get some overseas engineers in, find some that are lean and mean and don’t pay them if they don’t deliver. Get your act together. It should be up in the 90’s by now and not need all that sterling engine rubbish. Costs a fortune. More electrons per photon, thats it. Not a steam engine nailed to a load of mirrors.

    Also need to put a stop to the Mickey Mouse claims of others that don’t use available light to grid as the measure. Some take the percentage of light converted actually on the chip and come up with 43% and call it concentrated. The fact you had to use 1000 times the area to collect the light is kept quiet. Complete joke.

    We’re up to our eyes in utter nonsence like carbon credits and the Kyoto greenwash brigade because of these clowns. Any longer and this place will run out of energy for a couple of billion of us. That means half the planet dead because there’s not enough cheap food using low energy farming.

    1. Holy COW where did you come from?!! I have started to publicly wonder why all these neat new solar innovations are still on the drawing boards and going nowhere. Many of these so-called innovators have the wonderful devices that have no future plan for release into the market. Gee guys, great stuff…keep “it” up. There has never been more venture capital, more incentives, more demand, and yet here we are remembering that the last innovation to hit the residential solar market appeared around the time the Go Go’s released their second album.

      I am ready to give up on solar. if the industry is so dead set in keeping it’s head where the sun don’t shine, then maybe it’s time to hear about bio-fuels and wind again. When the solar industry feels the public is worthy of delivering innovation, then maybe I will check back then.

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