The Canberra-based team are working to develop ‘tandem solar cells' which involves stacking a new type of solar cell which uses organic and inorganic materials in a purpose-built structure that enhances light absorption, known as a perovskite cell, on top of a regular silicon cell, to generate twice as much energy out of sunlight.
The researchers have set a new efficiency record of 27.7% for mechanically-stacked silicon tandem cells, meaning 27.7% of sunlight is converted into energy.
Typical solar rooftop pv currently installed only absorbs roughly 20%.
ANU Professor Kylie Catchpole said the team plans to increase efficiency to 30% before the technology can be rolled out commercially.
"Silicon solar cells currently dominate the market, however the efficiency of silicon solar cells is going to reach the limit in the next five to ten years. This result demonstrates the potential of tandem solar cells," Professor Catchpole said.
"They can make better use of certain parts of the solar spectrum - for example high energy blue photons - this will lead to more efficient and more cost effective solar cells and solar energy sources."
She added that the tech, if successfully commercialised, could lead to a significant reduction in the coverage cost, as well as lower energy bills.
The International Technology Roadmap for PV predicts tandem solar cells will appear in mass production in 2023, according to lead researcher Dr The Duong.
The team has been funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, through the Australian Centre for Advance Photovoltaics.
"Solar power, as the majority of new generation and capacity entering the domestic energy market, will continue to play a significant role in the National Electricity Market (NEM) from both a consumer and commercial perspective" The Australian Electrical Market Operator said in a statement regarding the breakthrough.
AEMO's draft Integrated System Plan forecasts solar pv capacity to double or even triple, providing up to 22% of total energy demand by 2040 in the NEM.