Elon Musk targets high-volume solar panel dominance

October 06, 2015 //By Paul Buckley
Elon Musk targets high-volume solar panel dominance
Another of Elon Musk's companies is stirring up the power management sector with bold production plans.  This time it is the turn for SolarCity which declared this week that the company has built the world’s most efficient rooftop solar panel.

Elon Musk is the chairman of Solar City and is aiming to drive the solar panel developer to match the disruptive nature of his Tesla Motors electric vehicle company which is seeking to transform the global battery industry with the introduction of its Gigafactory concept.

SolarCity claims the solar panel, which has a module efficiency exceeding 22 percent, 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 the company's 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 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 organizations, but it will also be suitable for utility-scale solar fields and other large-scale, ground level installations.

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