SolarCity recently announced that it designed the most powerful solar panel in the world with 22 percent efficiency rate. Traditional solar panels have an efficiency rating of nearly 15 percent.
Because of the boost in efficiency, SolarCity solar panels can now store more solar energy and have a greater output than any other rooftop solar panel on the market. SolarCity boasted that its panels will be the highest volume solar panels in the world.
SolarCity is another company in Elon Musk’s portfolio along with the much-hyped SpaceX and Tesla Motors. The Canadian-American billionaire founded the company with help from two of his cousins.
The San Mateo, California-based company also announced that the new solar panels would be first manufactured starting this month at a 100 Megawatt Freemont-based plant. But mass production would start at the firm’s 1 Gigawatt plant in Buffalo.
The Buffalo plant would manufacture up to 10,000 solar panels each day, the company announced. A third party rated the panels’ efficiency to 22.4 percent, which is 7 percent higher than the industry’s standards.
As a result energy output is 30 percent to 40 percent higher, but production costs remain the same – around $0.55 per watt. Each panel will have a 355 watt capacity, the company added.
The new panels are also more resistant to high temperatures which helps them boost annual energy output by a great deal. Additionally, they last longer than conventional solar panels.
SolarCity announced that its Buffalo-based plant would produce up to $10,000 solar panels a day in 2017. SunPower which prides itself to be the maker of the most powerful solar panel out there said that its panels’ efficiency is 21.5 percent. SunPower uses crystalline silicon photovoltaic technology in its panels, and experts expect that the company improved the original reported efficiency.
In solar panel industry competition is very tight and producers struggle to gain even a few tenths of a percent gain in efficiency over their rivals. Experts said that SolarCity’s newly reported efficiency is impressive but the most amazing feat is the up to 40 percent gain in energy output.
Although the panels use the same technology, engineers were able to tightly pack more cells on the same surface and reduce energy losses. One of the engineers noted that everyone tries to improve efficiency by revamping technology, but there are other ways to achieve that and SolarCity just did so.
“In this case it was the packaging,”
said Ben Heng, head engineer at SolarCity.
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