SolarCity is the already the leading installer of residential solar panels in the US. And with their new Gigafactory in NewYork, they are set to become a manufacturer and supplier for everything solar, from making the panels to installation on rooftops. Capable of making 10,000 solar panels a day, the factory is on it’s way to producing 1 gigawatt of solar capacity a year. That will make it one of the largest solar manufacturing plants in the world.
In 2016 the cost of a solar panel installed for SolarCity was $2.84USD per watt, down from $4.73 in 2012. Once the factory reaches full production in mid 2017, that cost will drop to below $2.50 per watt. This will be due to more efficient panels, the volume of production and a simplified manufacturing process.
In British Columbia local solar installation companies like Novo Solar Solutions are seeing the shift in people’s interest in solar power. With lower solar panels costs, the net metering program through BC Hydro and the use of more efficient panels, residential clients are installing rooftop panels to offset the use of grid electricity or completely remove the need for using any BC Hydro power at all.
Electric car owners are also getting solar panels installed to charge their car at night. A system like this can dramatically reduce their reliance on BC Hydro and the ever increasing electricity rates.
When a company like SolarCity mass produces solar panels and installs them for their customers, the advances in solar technology increase quickly. Today’s silicon-based panels have an efficiency of roughly 16-18%. The panels coming out of the small SolarCity facility in Freemont, California have tested at about 22%.
Increasing the efficiency not only means more power but less panels that need to be installed on a roof. That also mean less parts, less wire, less days to install, so less labour costs.
Future advancements in solar technology such as lighter, more flexible and efficient panels, mean that they can produce electricity at a lower cost.
With the solar panel production happening at the Gigafactory on a mass scale the number of homes being powered by the sun will steadily increase and continue to replace the need for coal or fossil fuels to power your home. And that benefits us all, whether you have solar powering your home or not.