Monday, October 5, 2015

Elon Musk and SolarCity unveil ‘world’s most efficient’ solar panel

          Solar Energy has become incredibly popular the past few decades, and since 2012 there have been enormous investments in utility-scale solar plants (1.) The sun is an endless supply of energy and the solar panels covering the roofs of an increasing number of homes and businesses capture some of that energy. However, these panels are not running as efficiently as they can.  SolarCity, the countries largest installer of residential solar panels, and company chairman Elon Musk introduced the “world’s most efficient rooftop solar panel.” These panels can achieve a peak efficiency of 22.04%. This is much higher than what the average solar cell panel can convert, which is about 14-20%.  The panels are the same size as traditional panels but produce 30 to 40% more power. SolarCity also claims that the panels perform better than competing products in high temperatures. The new panels are cheap to produce and the company will continue to make money off of them even if the government policies to provide tax breaks for panel installation expires (2.)
However, in the solar energy industry in general, many do not seem impressed by SolarCity’s new panels. John Farrell, Director of the Democratic Energy Program for The Institute for Local Self-Reliance, told Mashable that the better solar panels is not a true solar energy breakthrough, but it will provide SolarCity with new customers. On the other hand, there has been positive feedback of the new panels by SolarCity. SolarCity has become one of the four “vertically integrated” solar companies in the U.S. since their acquisition of Silevo, a solar manufacturing startup that created high efficiency panel architecture. SolarCity can now handle it’s own business from manufacturing, sales, and installation. This will reduce costs, and employ 2,000 people in the Riverbend facility located in Buffalo, NY. SolarCity has also written their own blog post, advising people that solar power is not only for residential homes, but can be used for a diverse set of installations. It can be a community solar system that powers clusters of homes. Not only is SolarCity creating new efficient solar panels, they are creating jobs, and working towards the future of solar energy (3.)

SolarCity has provided 1/3 of all panels on residential property in the U.S. this past year. These new panels will definitely bring in more clients and reduce their costs. Next year, SolarCity said it plans to produce 10,000 solar panels a day. I think this is a great plan for SolarCity and a great marketing strategy. Not only are they reducing costs, they are providing customers with better efficiency and making their customers and potential clients believe that they have the best technology to produce better panels than their competitors. I do not think SolarCity has created a different panel in the sense where they really changed the way panels are made, but I do think SolarCity has changed the consumer’s point of view of solar panels. This will give them more potential customers, fewer costs, and they are providing information on solar energy for communities with more modest means.


1 comment:

  1. I think the biggest takeaway from this article has to be the continued innovation from SolarCity. It doesn't surprise me that a company with Elon Musk as the chairman, is doing anything but innovating. While John Farrell is right, a small 2% increase in the efficiency of solar panels is not a breakthrough, it still is an improvement that can be improved upon. Additionally, because Musk is also the CEO of Tesla Motors, the battery technology they are working on will go hand-in-hand with SolarCity's solar panels. Even if SolarCity is only able to get the efficiency up to say 25%, a battery with incredible energy density, will be able to store a lot of power in a small space. Think about as a trickle charge on your phone, your phone will get charged and will still work perfectly; it will just take some more time to do so.


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