SunPower Corp. ( SPWRA )( SPWRB ) has announced the creation of a solar cell that breaks the world record with 24.2 percent electricity conversion efficiency. The cell was manufactured in the company's Philippines plant and the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Lab independently confirmed the figure and the record.
Bill Mulligan, vice president of technology and development at SunPower, said "this new world record demonstrates SunPower's ability to extend our lead in manufacturing the world's highest efficiency solar cells."
SunPower's landmark achievement comes at a critical time for the solar industry, with indicators pointing to both enormous possibilities and huge pitfalls for the industry.
Wariness about oil, the crisis in the gulf and political incentive programs have pushed the technology forward. Persistent questions about costs, threats to federal and state subsidies, and the high-profile cancellation of Solyndra's IPO last week mark the general concern about price and efficiency that dog solar power.
SunPower is one of the higher-profile solar power companies, and one of just a handful of publicly traded solar companies in America. However, its shares have not performed particularly well, falling to $13.67 after trading at a peak of over $130 a share in 2007 and nearly $100 in 2008.