New Rooftop Solar Panels Are 30 – 40% More Efficient

Posted by on October 5, 2015 in Eco-Friendly, Environment with 2 Comments
Promo image SolarCity

Promo image SolarCity

By Margaret Badore |

Today, SolarCity revealed its newest solar panel, which the company says is the most efficient rooftop solar panel in the world. The panel hit 22.04 percent efficiency according to third-party testing. The unit is the same size as standard efficiency models, but produces 30 to 40 percent more power. According to SolarCity, the new panel can produce more electricity per square foot than any other rooftop unit on the market.

Related Article: Why Solar Power is Breaking Records in the US

While other solar technologies have hit higher efficiency levels, these units are not designed for residential rooftop applications. Residential rooftop panels usually have an efficiency between 11 and 17 percent.

The new panel may break another record as well, as the company plans to make it the highest-volume solar panel made in the U.S. SolarCity plans to build the majority of the units at their 1 GW factory in Buffalo, New York. The company projects it will be making 9,000 to 10,000 units per day, once that facility reaches capacity, and will be able to build the new units at the same cost as standard efficiency panels thanks to a new production process. Jonathan Bass, SolarCity’s Vice President of Communications, told TreeHugger that the facility is expected to be at capacity by 2017.

Initially, SolarCity will begin by making small batches next month at a pilot facility in Fremont, California. The company will begin installing the new panels on special projects where high-efficiency panels are most necessary, due to the initial limited quantity.

“In the short term, it won’t be a situation where a customer will say, ‘I want that panel,’” explained Bass. Instead, the company will use the panels for projects with particular space constraints and the need to generate more power.

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Because the majority of SolarCity users are not paying for equipment or installation, Bass said the new panels aren’t expected to have an impact on the cost to the user. “If anything, long-term, we’re hopeful we can lower the cost to the customer, or at least offer solar power in more places than we do today,” he said.

“We expect it will allow us to offer solar electricity at a discount to utility power in more places,” Bass said.

SolarCity held a conference with CEO Lyndon Rive and Chairman Elon Musk today in New York City following the announcement. “This is the most advanced solar panel in the world,” said Musk.

In some cases the new panel may make solar more feasible for some areas than it was before. At the event, Rive said that the panels SolarCity currently uses can meet 70 to 80 percent of customers’ energy needs, so from a technological standpoint there aren’t many circumstances where the new panel will enable solar where it wasn’t feasible before. “Only in certain circumstances are there the constraints where this will make a difference,” said Rive, but they predict the new panels will now meet 80 to 90 percent of energy needs.

“The biggest place where we’ll move the needle is cost,” said Rive. Thanks to vertical integration, the company has been able to keep installer wages high while improving efficiency. Rive said that the company’s goal is by 2017 to bring their cost down to $2.50 per watt, while right now their cost is at about $2.90 cents per watt, and down to $2.30 in the future even if federal tax credits are removed.

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  1.' Mike Cichra says:
    Check it out, found this about 2 weeks ago.
    These panels are made by using a particle accelerator to “cut” it off a roll of silica. 4microns thick I think. Way cheaper to make and a lot less material wasted.

  2.' Will Cassanara says:

    Bravo Elon Musk and a special bravo to your partners and team without whom life and success would probably look different!, At long last a relatively big player is pushing forward with the peoples and planets interests at heart and they’re making an enormous amount of money doing it!! So why don’t other companies have this approach?? We can only hope that logic will prevail!!

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