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Elon Musk aims to dominate solar panel market

Posted: 08 Oct 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:SolarCity  solar panel  Elon Musk  electric vehicle  rooftop 

Elon Musk, the chair of SolarCity, has revealed bold production plans for his company with the goal of leading the solar panel industry. He is aiming to drive the solar panel developer to match the disruptive nature of his Tesla Motors electric vehicle company that is seeking to change the global battery industry with the introduction of its Gigafactory concept.

SolarCity has developed a rooftop solar panel, which the company claimed has a module efficiency exceeding 22 per cent, generating more power per square foot and harvesting 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 the company's 100MW pilot facility, but the majority of the solar panels will ultimately be produced at SolarCity's 1GW facility in Buffalo, New York. SolarCity expects to be producing between 9,000 to 10,000 solar panels each day with similar efficiency when the Buffalo facility reaches full capacity.

SolarCity's panel was measured with 22.04 per cent module-level efficiency by Renewable Energy Test Centre, a third-party certification testing provider for photovoltaic and renewable energy products. The 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 to 40 per cent more power. SolarCity's panel also claims to perform 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 solar panel on rooftops and carports for homes, businesses, schools and other organisations, but it will also be suitable for utility-scale solar fields and other large-scale, ground level installations.

- Paul Buckley
  EE Times Europe

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