The clean energy cooks in their laboratories always show the theoretical limit of how much power you can get out of the sunshine, but we plebe to install solar cells fixed with year-old technology that is not half as good as what they "see again. This new design from Insolight can be the one that changes it all.
Insolight is a spinoff from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne where they have been working on the new method for a few years – and it's almost ready to hit your roof.  Usually solar cells collect solar radiation on the entire surface and convert it into electricity with perhaps 15-19 percent efficiency, which means that about 85 percent of the energy is lost in the process, there are more efficient cells out there, but they are generally expensive and special purpose or use of exotic material.
One place people tend not to save any cost, but lie in space. but not a problem if you only use a small amount of them and concentrate the sunlight on them; It is Insolight's insight.
Small but very effective cells are laid down on a grid and above it is placed a honeycomb-like lens array that takes light and bends it in a narrow beam concentrated only on small cells. When the sun goes down, the cell layer ever moves so little, keeping the rays on target. They have achieved as high as 37 percent efficiency in testing and 30 percent in consumer-oriented patterns. It means half or twice the power of the same area as ordinary panels.
Certainly, this adds a layer or two of complexity to the current mass-produced arrays that are "good enough" but far from the latest technology. But the resulting panels are not very different in size or shape, and require no special placement or hardware, such as a concentrator or special platform. And a recent pilot test on an EPFL roof passed with flying colors.
"Our panels were connected to the grid and were continuously monitored. They continued to work without heat through heat waves, storms and winter weather," said Mathiu Ackermann, the company's CTO, in an EPFL press release. "This hybrid approach is particularly effective when it is cloudy and the sunlight is less concentrated as it can keep the current even under diffuse light rays."
The company is now in talks with solar panel manufacturers, which they undoubtedly try to convince that it is not that difficult to integrate this technology with their existing production lines – "some additional steps during the assembly phase," says Ackermann. Expected Insolight panels to hit the market in 2022 – yes it is still a way away, but maybe then all of us will also have electric cars and it seems like an even better deal.