A new 26.5% efficiency record for 3Sun’s tandem solar cell

A solar cell created by the specialists at our “Factory of the Sun,” together with France’s INES, has set a new record with an efficiency level of 26.5%. This is thanks to innovative Tandem technology, with which we are aiming for even more ambitious goals.

A new efficiency record has been set by the Tandem solar cell at 3Sun , Enel Green Power’s photovoltaic panel factory in Catania. The new value achieved in the laboratory by the researchers is a power conversion efficiency level of 26.5% and clearly exceeds the previous record (25.8%), which was established in December 2022 by a cell of the same type.

The record-breaking cell, which has an active area of 9 square centimeters, was built by our specialists in collaboration with researchers from the French Institut National pour l’Énergie Solaire (INES , the National Institute for Solar Energy).

It is a cell of the Tandem type. In other words, it consists of two superimposed cells: one is of the silicon heterojunction (HJT) model, which is industrially produced by 3Sun, whereas the other is made of another material, perovskite. In this way, the limits of traditional cells can be overcome: silicon cells only use the radiation in red sunlight wavelengths, while perovskite cells use blue wavelengths. The Tandem cell, by using both, improves their efficiency.

At the beginning of 2020, we established a previous world record with heterojunction cells (HJT): an efficiency level of 24.63% achieved with an industrial and non-experimental cell. In August of the same year, our collaboration with INES enabled us to reach a value of 25%. However, traditional silicon cells have a theoretical efficiency limit of around 28%-29%, while the maximum limit that can be reached in practice is 26%-27%: these values are in any case very difficult to achieve.

With Tandem technology the situation changes, as will the future of 3Sun. Our factory, with the TANGO (iTaliAN pv Giga factOry) project and thanks to 118 million euros from the European Innovation Fund for large-scale projects, will produce solar panels for a total of 3 GW per year. It will thus become a Gigafactory, the largest factory in Europe for the production of high-performance photovoltaic modules. And the leap in quantity will be matched by that in quality: starting from 2026, with Tandem cells, we aim to achieve efficiency values of around 30%.

These improvements are not only prestigious technological firsts: even a small increase in efficiency leads, over long periods and in large numbers, to far greater production of electricity from solar sources, and therefore contributes significantly to reducing the consumption of fossil fuels. Ultimately, manufacturing a more efficient cell favors the energy transition to a more sustainable electricity generation system.