We’ve reported a lot this year on the ever-dropping price of solar power technology, but the other incredibly cool thing happening is the steady increase in efficiency. This combination of lower price and higher energy conversion is securing solar power’s top spot in the renewable energy race. Now, Panasonic says its next solar panels will snag a record-breaking 22.5 percent efficiency rating, busting SolarCity’s reign by 1.4 percent. That may not sound like much, but in the world of solar power, it’s a substantial jump.

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SolarCity plans to manufacture its high-efficiency solar panels starting at the company’s new Buffalo, New York plant next year, but even those panels are only expected to convert 22.1 percent of sunlight into usable electricity. Panasonic isn’t quite as far along in its development, but the company has created a prototype of a commercial-sized solar panel that boasts a 22.5 percent conversion efficiency. And we don’t have to take Panasonic’s word for it; the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology has confirmed it in testing.

Related: New hybrid solar cells generates 5 times more energy by harnessing sunlight and heat at the same time

Although it will be a while before Panasonic’s most efficient solar panels can be put into mass production, the company isn’t holding its proverbial breath. It is gearing up to launch the HIT® N330, the latest addition to the company’s high-efficiency hetero-junction photovoltaic module product line, with a 19.7 percent module-level efficiency rate. And then Panasonic’s most powerful PV module to date will be available in the UK and other European markets starting in March 2016.

Via Clean Technica

Images via Panasonic