Reinvent the wheel and make it Elon Musk style

Solarcity aims to lower the cost of solar panels in order to make them more attractive to customers in the US. In the end, it is a matter of make it more appealing to individuals; better colors, lower (maybe) prices and financing: use now, pay later. One of the main concerns regarding solar panels is their efficiency. Efficiency means how much power you can get from surface area. Wikipedia provided this amazing plot on the efficiency of different technologies over time.

Solar cell efficiency

It is interesting to realize what are the companies involved in the developments of each technology. Then I wonder, is Tesla or Solar City investing in any kind of research? Question just out of pure lack of time to investigate on that. Anyways, Wikipedia also provides important information regarding the Energy Payback Time, which can be as low as 3 years in Northern Europe, one of the places with the least amount of sun in the inhabited world.

If you have a house, this looks like the way to go. If you live in a building, forget it, the surface you have is too small for providing energy for everybody. I’m surprised that only now with a company like Solar City there is a bit more of fuzz about something that already several years ago was energetically and financially favorable. If you are interested in the full video, check it down; it’s the first time I actually listen to Elon Musk, have to admit is slightly disappointing.

  • Chris

    Nice article!

    I think what Tesla and SolarCity are doing what has needed to be done for a long time: Instead of selling solar as a necessity, a moral obligation, he sells it way more efficiently: as something cool!

    As for payback times, that is hardly a consideration for the consumers that can afford solar, and I don’t think these roofs will quickly pay themselves back. Then again, neither does an iPhone, a maserati, or a painting pay itself back, and that is not the reason people buy them.

    • aqui_c

      Actually, the payback time I was mentioning is the energetic payback time, meaning the time it takes a device to produce the same amount of energy that needed building it. Doesn’t mean anything to the consumer, but it is a good indicator that solar panels have a positive energy balance and it is not a distortion because of fiscal incentives or subsidies.

      But totally agree, make it cool and you can even sell snowboards in NL 😉

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