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