Newly released high-efficiency solar cells could provide further economic benefits to consumers of renewable energy.

Electronics and photovoltaic manufacturer Sanyo Europe has launched its latest solar module in its HIT series. The new HIT-N235SE10 at 21.1 percent efficiency has the highest efficiency rating achieved by Sanyo's photovoltaic products. To date 23 percent is the highest efficiency rating achieved in solar cells and has only been possible in research and development prototypes. The HIT-N235SE10 solar module is due to begin being shipped to the UK and Europe during September.

The increased efficiency of solar cells such as Sanyo's could provide further economic benefits to home owners across the world by increasing the available amount of renewable electricity and further lowering energy costs.

UK institution the Energy Savings Trust estimates that the installation of a standard performance household solar module reduces the average household energy bill by £200 (€241), and independent surveys conducted across Europe and America found that the addition of solar panels can significantly increase the value of a house. 

General Electric (GE), a major developer of renewable energy technology, is working to develop a cost-competitive thin film solar module which would achieve higher levels of performance using fewer materials than currently available solar cells. It is not yet known when these cells will be commercially available.  

The installation cost of solar modules varies from supplier to supplier and is subject to numerous variables. Consumers wishing to have solar panels fitted to their house can obtain a list of approved installation specialists from the relevant manufacturers' website.