PV Talk: Lifting the lid on Elon Musk’s SolarCity rhetoric

January 30, 2018 – 11:15 am

SolarCityImage: SolarCity.

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John Parnell

John Parnell joined Solar Media in 2013 as deputy head of content. John spent three years in the UAE reporting on the Middle East technology, media and telecoms sectors for ITP Publishing and eventually editing his own B2B title with the company. He joined RTCC.org in London to cover international climate change and energy policy. He served two tours of duty at the annual UN climate change talks (Durban and Doha) and another at the UN’s Rio+20 sustainable development summit.

SolarCity's US$350 million deal for module manufacturer Silevo was gobbled up by the mainstream press. The prominance of SolarCity's president Elon Musk during the announcement brought added interest. The buy was described as an effort to make SolarCity "the Apple of solar", it was "bold", "grand", "revolutionary", it even "answered the Siren Song of panel manufacturing". Finlay Colville, vice president of NPD Solarbuzz tells PV Tech why the immediate impact of the deal is far less significant than many profess, even if it could turn out to make good busienss sense.

Elon Musk was front and centre for this announcement, he has deep pockets and a tendency toward making big plans. Is this a sound business decision for SolarCity or a headline grabbing vanity project for Mr Musk?

At first hearing, it was hard not to draw analogies with the shattered gigawatt dreams of so many before that have assumed scale of manufacturing in PV is the silver bullet in technology qualification and cost competitiveness.

Whatever the fanfare, whoever the proponent and irrespective of the platform used for the announcements, we come back to one simple question: does this technology actually work in a commercial environment? On that, currently, we have no data points: nor should we, given Silevo’s somewhat stealth-like existence since 2007.


Source: www.pv-tech.org

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