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Published on August 31st, 2015 | by James Ayre


SolarCity Aiming To Produce Solar Modules With +20% Conversion Efficiency At 50¢/Watt

August 31st, 2015 by  

Originally published on Solar Love.

SolarCity’s goals for the Silevo solar module manufacturing facility under development in Buffalo, New York, are certainly not unambitious ones — based on the company’s recent SEC filing detailing the achievements needed via its performance-based compensation plan to vest tranches of shares.

Amongst these achievements, is the meeting of production costs of just 50¢/watt for solar modules with a +20% conversion efficiency — so, as stated above, the company certainly isn’t aiming low.

SolarCity Silevo Efficiency

Considering the scale of the facility, the target doesn’t sound that strange — the manufacturing facility will, after all, be one of the largest of its type in the world once completed. Altogether, SolarCity is aiming for an annual production output of 1 gigawatt of solar modules (1,000 megawatts).

If the 50¢/watt goal is met, the facility will then be in a highly competitive position with Chinese-produced solar modules — potentially making for some very interesting market happenings. When that will occur is currently unknown, though. The facility is expected to come online in 2016, but the ramp-up period is vague.

Worth a reminder here, as well, is that the solar modules produced by the facility are expected to be high enough in conversion efficiency (over 20% to 24%) that fewer modules will be needed for solar arrays or rooftop systems, thereby reducing space requirements, and presumably installation costs.


Electrek provides more:

20% efficiency would be great, but the company aims to eventually hit 24% with Silevo’s Triex technology. They think they could reduce the number of panels per installation by 25%. The breakthroughs would allow for 340 watt panels the size of current 250 watt high-efficiency panels.

These module cost improvements would help the co-founders achieve other milestones of their compensation plan, including the reduction of the total cost per watt, which was at $2.91 last quarter. According to the SEC filing, to vest the last tranche of their compensation plan, they would need to achieve a total cost of installation of $2.05 per watt. This could make residential solar energy more affordable than ever before.

Here are the achievements outlined in the recent SEC filing:

  1. Cost of Production of $0.50/Watt of solar modules with at least 20% efficiency
  2. 1 million Customers
  3. 3 million Customers
  4. 2,000 Cumulative Megawatts Installed
  5. 6,000 Cumulative Megawatts Installed
  6. PowerCo Available Cash of $170 million for Trailing Twelve Months
  7. PowerCo Available Cash of $600 million for Trailing Twelve Months
  8. Average Total Cost Per Watt of $2.75 as of the end of a fiscal quarter
  9. Average Total Cost Per Watt of $2.35 as of the end of a fiscal quarter
  10. Average Total Cost Per Watt of $2.05 as of the end of a fiscal quarter



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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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