Venture Capital: Sundrive Develops The World’s Most Efficient Solar Cell

Sundrive uses cheaper and more abundantly available copper instead of silver in its commercial-sized solar cell.

Founded in a garage in 2015 by David Hu and Vince Allen, Sundrive, a solar energy startup, has successfully developed the world’s most efficient solar cell. Their cell generates solar-sourced power at an efficiency of 25.54%, breaking the previous world record of 25.26%. More important, the startup did it while replacing the silver in solar cells with copper. (ABC News)

Australian roots

Solar cells were invented in Australia 30 years ago, and according to Sundrive chief executive Vince Allen, the company’s world record (which is certified by the Institute For Solar Energy Research Hamlin in Germany) puts Australia back in pole position in solar cell manufacturing.

“We see ourselves as having a technology that will help the industry grow to its next stage with more efficient silicon solar cells and we see an opportunity to be at the forefront of the next solar adoption wave,” said Allen to ABC.

The use of copper instead of silver is a huge breakthrough. Copper is 100 times cheaper than silver, is abundantly available and requires much less energy in the manufacturing process.

Though Sundrive is quite a while away from commercial production in mass quantities, the startup has its eyes firmly set on that goal.

It is focused on building its pilot production line by the end of next year with panels being produced by the first half of 2023.


Sundrive received more than $2 million via a grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

It also raised about $7.5 million from investors including Blackbird Ventures, Grok Ventures which is backed by Mike Cannon-Brookes, one of Australia’s wealthiest people, and Suntech Power Holdings Co. chief Shi Zhengrong.

Related Story: Gates-Founded Breakthrough Energy Raises Over $1B From Top US Companies

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