Since its first appearance in the 1960s, solar technology has been steadily becoming more and more prominent. Not only have we improved solar cells, energy storage, and solar applications, but we’ve also made the renewable energy source more affordable for people throughout the country.
One company dedicated to making affordable solar power happen is Solar City, an energy provider based in San Mateo, California. Recently, it announced its plans to mass-produce the world’s most efficient (and affordable) solar panel.
The project comes as a result of Solar City’s acquisition of Silevo, a solar manufacturing startup. Silevo creates a highly efficient solar panel using a technology called Triex, and with Solar City as the manufacturing element, the project could see great success. To get things going, Solar City is currently building a solar panel manufacturing plant outside of Buffalo, New York that is said to triple the size of the largest solar plant in the U.S.
Solar City’s chairman, Elon Musk (who happens to also be the CEO of both Tesla and SpaceX), has funded the project since its conception in June, which aims to lower global warming effects and make solar energy more affordable. Typically, solar panels can cost anywhere from $5 to $11 per watt, however, these anticipated new panels aim to cost $2.50 per watt by 2017.
The cost of solar energy is already falling, but more affordable solar panels will help drive it down even more. In fact, according to a report by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, solar is predicted to be cheaper than traditional grid power by as early as 2017 and as late as 2040. The overall cost and availability, however, will also depend on federal subsidies in the future. For now, though, the future is looking bright.