Sunnyvale, CA-based SunPower researchers claim to have discovered an inherent characteristic of solar cells that, if ameliorated, increases their efficiency.
The effect itself is called surface polarisation, and occurs when minute amounts of electrical charge leak through the face of the solar cell and accumulate or dissipate on its surface.
The company’s researchers have found that the presence or absence of such surface charge decreases or increases the current generated from the cell itself.
It also says that electricity production in systems using high-efficiency solar cells can be significantly decreased or increased by changing the system wiring and grounding configurations of a solar cell. Apparently, the respective changes in performance due to such changes are rapid and reversible.
As the result of their discovery, SunPower scientists have developed and applied for patents on new solar cell and system designs that eliminate the surface polarisation effect.