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Power Businesses

Elon Musk's Solar City Is Ramping Up Solar Panel Production 262

MarkWhittington writes: Elon Musk is well known as a private space flight entrepreneur, thanks to his space launch company SpaceX. He is also a purveyor of high end electric cars manufactured by his other company, Tesla Motors. But many people do not know that Musk has a third business, Solar City, which is a manufacturer of solar panels. On Tuesday that company announced a major play to increase the output of solar panels suitable for home solar units. Solar City has acquired a company called Silevo, which is said to have a line of solar panels that have demonstrated high electricity output and low cost. Silevo claims that its panels have achieved a 22 percent efficiency and are well on their way to achieving 24 percent efficiency. It suggests that 10 cents per watt is saved for every point of efficiency gained. Solar City, using the technology it has acquired from Silevo, intends to build a manufacturing plant in upstate New York with a one gigawatt per year capacity. This will only be the beginning as it intends to build future manufacturing plants with orders of magnitude capacity. The goal appears to be for the company to become the biggest manufacturer of solar panels in the world.
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Elon Musk's Solar City Is Ramping Up Solar Panel Production

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  • by paziek ( 1329929 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @08:23AM (#47261567)
    Why Silevo didn't aim to be biggest? If their panels are so good and cheap, then why not just keep selling them? Why sell company that is making profit and will most likely grow? Fast cash grab, or those panels aren't so special after all? And why not just use some cheap 16% China panels in higher volume? Sure there is limited real estate on house for panels, so you might not get all your need covered by solar, but with unstable weather you wouldn't anyway.
  • The man has vision (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jheralack ( 1067056 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @08:34AM (#47261623)
    Musk really has the vision and guts to push us in these areas that have languished for years (private space travel, electric cars, and now domestic electric power generation), and seems to be making them working concerns. If he gets even one past the tipping point, it's a lifelong career's worth of accomplishment. He may get the hat trick! Maybe we should pay attention to his alternative to the California high speed rail project...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @08:42AM (#47261659)

    you may have night but the World +12 hours has day.

  • by crow ( 16139 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @08:43AM (#47261665) Homepage Journal

    For many people, the limit on the size of their solar array is the size of their roof. If you want to offset your full usage, you may need higher-capacity panels than the standard 250W base panels. There are a number of higher-efficiency panels available, but the cost per Watt is higher. They probably don't cost much more to manufacture, so the more efficient panels have a higher profit margin.

    Also, you have to keep improving your technology or you're out of the business when the cheap panels get to be as efficient than what you're producing.

  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @09:01AM (#47261751)

    For many people, the limit on the size of their solar array is the size of their roof.

    If you have an unobstructed, south sloping roof, it is likely you can offset all of your electricity needs with standard panels. I looked into this last year, and we needed panels on less than half of our roof. However, we decided against it because it was far more cost effective to invest in cheap LED light bulbs ($2 each on eBay) and attic insulation. That pushed all of our electricity consumption into the lowest billing tier, and the solar panels no longer made financial sense.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @10:21AM (#47262463)

    He wants to produce 1GW of solar panels. If one solar panel is rated at 250W he wants to produce 4 million panels in a year.

    How much energy each panel actually produces over a year depends on where and how they are installed. If you are in a very sunny climate like Phoenix you might get 375kWh out of each south facing installed 250W panel. If all 4 million panels were installed in a similar location they could generate 1500 GWh of power per year.

  • by NatasRevol ( 731260 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @10:54AM (#47262785) Journal

    He's like an actual, decent version of an Ayn Rand book.

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...