Skip to content

CSEM helps create the world’s most efficient photovoltaic panels


3 July 2023

Interactive tour of the HIPERION pilot production line in Neuchâtel. Interactive tour of the HIPERION pilot production line in Neuchâtel. | © CSEM

A part of the Hiperion project, CSEM innovates in the photovoltaic industry with the creation of the world’s most efficient solar panels.

Europe is poised to take center stage in the photovoltaic industry, courtesy of the Hiperion project. Taking part in the project, the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) has spent the last four years pioneering an innovative solution that seeks to shake up the photovoltaic world.

The Hiperion project, launched in September 2019 and funded by a EUR 10.6 million grant from the European Union, has developed what is acclaimed as the world’s most efficient flat photovoltaic panels. The groundbreaking panels have displayed an impressive power conversion efficiency of over 29% under standard test conditions, a substantial leap from the 15-22% that conventional panels offer.

This increase in efficiency is achieved by ingeniously blending two solar panel technologies: conventional photovoltaic technology, which collects both direct and diffuse light, and concentrated photovoltaics, a space technology that is more efficient but requires direct sunlight. Hiperion’s hybrid panels leverage both technologies, increasing their power production during direct sunlight and relying on conventional photovoltaics during cloudier conditions.

Hiperion’s modules are currently being manufactured at a pilot production line in the Innoparc technology park in Neuchâtel. After being produced, they’re sent to pilot sites across Europe for rigorous testing under various climate conditions and meteorological stresses.

The implications of this innovation are vast. The high efficiency of Hiperion’s panels makes them particularly suitable for environments where space is limited but power needs are high. Urban buildings with small rooftops and electric vehicle charging stations, where high power is required over a small area, are prime candidates for this technology.

Complementing conventional panels

This innovation is not intended to directly compete with conventional solar panels, but rather to complement them. By focusing on niche markets and solving unique challenges, Hiperion is making a strong case for the hybrid approach to solar energy.

While the Hiperion project has been a resounding success so far, the transition from the prototype stage to mass production is not without its challenges. It still requires additional capital from investors to initiate the industrialization phase and boost production. Additionally, further adjustments are necessary to comply with industrial standards, and the size of the panels needs to be scaled up to match that of conventional ones.

Nevertheless, the Hiperion project offers a promising alternative to the Asian-dominated photovoltaic market, giving Europe an opportunity to regain leadership in solar technology innovation. As the world continues to strive for sustainable energy solutions, Hiperion’s groundbreaking technology could very well be a game-changer.