SolarCity unveiled a solar panel on Friday that it says is the most efficient in the industry. The new design is 22.04 percent efficient, compared to 21.5 percent from the closest competition, SunPower Corp.
The Elon Musk-backed company, which is already the top installer of solar panels in the U.S., says the shift towards producing its own products will help lower pricing. SolarCity expects to bring down costs by 15 to 20 cents per watt. However, the firm admits that it will still need to source most of its panels from other providers and customers won’t be able to specifically request the new panel, according to CEO Lyndon Rive.
SolarCity says its new in-house panels will mostly be used for installation jobs with minimal space where efficiency is particularly important.
The company expanded into producing its own solar panels last year after originally launching with a focus on installation. SolarCity’s manufacturing business currently runs out of a small factory in California, but the firm plans to open its own facility in Buffalo, New York in 2017. By 2020, it expects to be producing between 9,000 and 10,000 panels per day.