When Elon Musk changed the business strategy for SolarCity less than one year ago from being a company that financing American homeowners for solar pv power systems that use many solar companie’s panels and components to a company that will use their own panels the world took notice. The fact that he also intended to do it by manufacturing these panels in the US, amazed most industry analyst but appealed to the US sense of patriotism.
How could he possible make money when solar companies in China and India are producing the cheapest panels in the world? Since that time Elon has built a huge solar pv manufacturing facility in the USA and is preparing to start making panels. How can he compete in such a competitive industry in this way?
Maybe we now have a part of the answer to these questions. Here is their announcement from today.
SolarCity has built the world’s most efficient rooftop solar panel, with a module efficiency exceeding 22 percent. The new SolarCity panel generates more power per square foot and harvests more energy over a year than any other rooftop panel in production, and will be the highest volume solar panel manufactured in the Western Hemisphere.
SolarCity will begin producing the first modules in small quantities this month at its 100 MW pilot facility, but the majority of the new solar panels will ultimately be produced at SolarCity’s 1 GW facility in Buffalo, New York.
SolarCity expects to be producing between 9,000 – 10,000 solar panels each day with similar efficiency when the Buffalo facility reaches full capacity.
SolarCity’s panel was measured with 22.04 percent module-level efficiency by Renewable Energy Test Center, a third-party certification testing provider for photovoltaic and renewable energy products. SolarCity’s new panel—created via a proprietary process that significantly reduces the manufacturing cost relative to other high-efficiency technologies—is the same size as standard efficiency solar panels, but produces 30-40 percent more power. SolarCity’s panel also performs better than other modules in high temperatures, which allows it to produce even more energy on an annual basis than other solar panels of comparable size.
SolarCity initially expects to install the new, record-setting solar panel on rooftops and carports for homes, businesses, schools and other organizations, but it will also be excellent for utility-scale solar fields and other large-scale, ground level installations.
Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.