Today (Oct. 2) SolarCity introduced its newest product, solar panels. The company said its new solar panels, which will be made in the U.S. are the most efficient panels for the rooftop market at over 22 percent module efficiency. The company will begin producing the modules at its pilot facility in California before starting mass production at a facility in Buffalo, NY in 2017.
The new module was tested at Renewable Energy Test Center in California. While noting that it was a test module, SolarCity Chief Technology Officer Peter Rive said that most of the solar panels it’s producing are coming off the line at its pilot facility are 21.8 percent efficient. That makes them slightly more efficient than the modules produced by SunPower, which produces solar panels that are 21.5 percent efficient on average.The technology behind SolarCity’s new modules comes from Silevo, which SolarCity purchased in 2014. The company purchased the technology because it said it could deliver less expensive and more efficient solar panels.
When SolarCity announced the purchase, Elon Musk, Peter Rive and Lyndon Rive stated that it made the purchase as a strategic moves. “At a targeted capacity greater than 1 GW within the next two years, it will be one of the single largest solar panel production plants in the world. This will be followed in subsequent years by one or more significantly larger plants at an order of magnitude greater annual production capacity,” they wrote in a blog post at that time.
The New York Times reported that Rive said “You’re talking about a 40 percent increase in efficiency at a lower cost,” he said. As such, the modules will need less rooftop space to produce the power needed to run a home. “We have to get solar energy to be cheaper than natural gas or coal, and these breakthroughs get us there.” He anticipated that the modules will cost 55 cents per watt to produce.
The first modules will be intended purely for rooftop solar installations from homes to commercial-scale systems. “But it will also be excellent for utility-scale solar fields and other large-scale, ground level installations,” the company said.
SolarCity plans to produce 100 megawatts of modules a year at its pilot facility. And already is building a a gigawatt-scale manufacturing facility in Buffalo. That facility is expect to churn out 9,000 to 10,000 solar panels daily.Tweet