There is little doubt that SolarCity Corporation (SCTY) has managed phenomenal growth due to the massive dive in solar panel costs caused by large-scale Chinese manufacturing. However the glut of solar panels is starting to wane and SolarCity is making moves keep its current business model intact while adding a few new wrinkles.
First on the list is getting into the solar panel manufacturing business. To satisfy this goal SolarCity purchased Silevo, a manufacturer of high-efficiency Triex™ technology solar cells. In addition to Silevo, they have started construction of a 1 million square foot site in Buffalo, NY which will manufacture more than a gigawatt of solar capacity annually.
To accompany all these bold moves into solar manufacturing, SolarCity announced they will be leasing the old 200,000 sq. ft. Solyndra facility and use it primarily as a research and development headquarters for its solar “gigafactory” in Buffalo.
Another twist in this story is the connection between SolarCity and Tesla Motors (TSLA). Elon Musk, who sits on the board of SolarCity with cousins Lyndon Rive (CEO) and Peter Rive (CTO), are currently involved in a joint venture combining Tesla batteries with SolarCity panels to generate stand-alone power for residential homes. A test involving 500 homes in California is currently underway. The goal is to develop a dependable system with the ability to power a home for at least two days during a blackout, and to provide electrical power during high-cost or high-peak periods.
Of course, all this ties into the Musk storage battery “gigafactory” currently under construction in Nevada. It’s a win-win for both companies as they corner both the solar panel and storage battery market ensuring a steady supply of products as they ramp-up both businesses.
Not that either company needs any help. Currently SolarCity Corp. (SCTY) controls a whopping 39% of the solar installation market and Tesla Motors dominates when it comes to electric vehicles.
Undoubtedly, the success of an efficient solar power energy storage system is a game-changer for SolarCity and would boost revenues for the Tesla battery gigafactory. As both gigafactory’s go online, and costs eventually decline, green-lovers and grid-haters alike will line up for installations.
When you think about it, maybe solar roadways are a possibility after all.