Musk announces plans to build ‘one of the single largest solar panel production plants in the world’ and send people to Mars in ten years
June 18, 2014
Elon Musk, chairman of SolarCity, America’s largest solar power provider, announced Tuesday with other SolarCity executives that the company plans to acquire Silevo, a solar panel technology and manufacturing company whose modules have “demonstrated a unique combination of high energy output and low cost.”
“Our intent is to combine what we believe is fundamentally the best photovoltaic technology with massive economies of scale to achieve a breakthrough in the cost of solar power.”
The announcement caused solar-panel stocks to skyrocket, and SolarCity shares “finished the day up over 17.5%,” said Forbes.
Mass adoption of sustainable energy
Musk said the company is in discussions with the state of New York to build the initial manufacturing plant, continuing a relationship developed by the Silevo team. “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.
“SolarCity was founded to accelerate mass adoption of sustainable energy. The sun, that highly convenient and free fusion reactor in the sky, radiates more energy to the Earth in a few hours than the entire human population consumes from all sources in a year.
“This means that solar panels, paired with batteries to enable power at night, can produce several orders of magnitude more electricity than is consumed by the entirety of human civilization. A cogent assessment of sustainable energy potential from various sources is described well in this Sandia paper.
“Even if the solar industry were only to generate 40 percent of the world’s electricity with photovoltaics by 2040, that would mean installing more than 400 GW of solar capacity per year for the next 25 years.
“We absolutely believe that solar power can and will become the world’s predominant source of energy within our lifetimes, but there are obviously a lot of panels that have to be manufactured and installed in order for that to happen. The plans we are announcing today, while substantial compared to current industry, are small in that context.”
Meanwhile, in an interview with CNBC on Tuesday, Musk said that he thinks “the first people could be taken to Mars in 10 to 12 years … but the thing that matters long term is to have a self-sustaining city on Mars, to make life multiplanetary.”