SolarCity announced it will soon begin manufacturing the most powerful solar PV panel in the world, rated at 22% conversion efficiency by the Renewable Energy Test Center.
The installation company that leads the US on solar leases, decided to get into manufacturing to be able to offer lower electricity prices. Last year, it acquired Silevo, which developed the propriety solar panel.
That puts SolarCity ahead of long-time leader SunPower, known for its high quality solar panels that convert 21.5% of sunlight into power. But SunPower isn’t standing still and says its average efficiency is now close to 23%, reports Greentech Media.
"You’re talking about a 40% increase in efficiency at a lower [manufacturing] cost," founder Peter Rive told the NY Times. "We have to get solar energy to be cheaper than natural gas or coal, and these breakthroughs get us there."
The new panels haven’t changed in size, but they are cheaper to produce and perform better in high temperatures – allowing it to work well in hot deserts. It can be used on rooftops and for large, ground installations and combines elements from both crystalline silicon and thin film PV.
SolarCity has a 34% share of the US installation market, way more than runner-up Vivint (bought by Sun Edison) with 12% and Sunrun – which recently went public – with a 3% share, according to Q3 2015 US PV Leaderboard by GTM Research.
Read our article, SolarCity Enters Giga-Manufacturing With Even Bigger Plans.