SolarCity wants to build one of the world’s largest solar plants in the state of New York.
The firm announced this morning it had purchased Silevo, a solar panel technology and manufacturing company that specialises in producing high-efficiency panels — ones that produce a lot of energy at a low cost. And it needs new plants to realise Silevo’s designs.
“We are in discussions with the state of New York to build the initial manufacturing plant, continuing a relationship developed by the Silevo team,” the firm said in a blog post. “At a targeted capacity greater than 1 GW within the next two years, it will be one of the single largest solar panel production plants in the world. This will be followed in subsequent years by one or more significantly larger plants at an order of magnitude greater annual production capacity.”
The move is reminiscent of Tesla’s plan to build Gigafactories to double the world’s supply of lithium ion batteries. Except in this case, the market remains somewhat oversupplied with panels, thanks to a production boom in China. But SolarCity says it is preparing now for an era when renewables subsidies are gone and panels will have to become more efficient.
“Without decisive action to lay the groundwork today, the massive volume of affordable, high efficiency panels needed for unsubsidized solar power to outcompete fossil fuel grid power simply will not be there when it is needed.”
The firm is planning a conference call at 10 a.m. Eastern. Chairman Elon Musk will be present. We’ll be following along.