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Boeing Enters Solar Market With High-Efficiency Cells

Boeing Co., the world’s largest aerospace company, plans to deliver its first commercial scale high-efficiency solar-power cells for Earth-based electricity production in January.

The concentrating photovoltaic cells, developed by Boeing’s Spectrolab unit for satellites and the International Space Station, can convert as much as 39.2 percent of sunlight into electricity, Chicago-based Boeing said today in a statement.

Spectrolab, which says its solar panels supply power for 60 percent of the satellites orbiting Earth, plans to boost output of the higher-efficiency cells for land-based production. Efficiency may average 40 percent next year as improvements are made during production, Boeing said.

The cells are made from single-crystal germanium substrates, said Russ Jones, a Spectrolab business development director. The company will produce as many as 10 million of the cells next year, depending on demand. He would not discuss production costs.

The top polysilicon-based solar panels manufactured by SunPower Corp., based in San Jose, California, can convert a maximum of 22 percent of the sun’s rays into electricity. In June, a SunPower solar cell reached a 24.2 percent conversion efficiency, the record for large silicon wafers.

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