SolarCity With Record 272 MW Of Installed Solar In Q4 At Record Low $2.71 Per Watt – Video

FEB 22 2016 BY MARK KANE 24

SolarCity Q4 2015 Overview

SolarCity Q4 2015 Overview

SolarCity TOTAL COST OF MW DEPLOYED (Excludes R&D expenses and corporate capital expenditures)

SolarCity TOTAL COST OF MW DEPLOYED (Excludes R&D expenses and corporate capital expenditures)

SolarCity, one of three companies directly related to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, set a fourth quarter record of 272 MW of installed solar power capacity (up 54% year-over-year), reaching 1,900 MW total (870 MW in 2015 – 73% up compared to 2014).

First quarter of 2016 is now expected at some 180 MW and 1,250 MW total in 2016.

At the same time, total average cost per watt decreased to $2.71 per watt (5% year-over-year).

SolarCity is now also not only installer of solar system, but also become manufacturer of cell-modules with efficiency of 20%:

“Following the grand opening of our Fab2 in November 2015, our first operational 100-MW cell-module manufacturing line is up and running, producing modules with average efficiencies exceeding 20% today and expected to surpass 21% by the end of the year. In addition, we continue to innovate in our Zep mounting hardware with our latest technological development reducing part count from 8 to 3 and enabling the installation of 16 modules (~4 kW) in 20 minutes, all while reducing risk of roof damage. We expect even greater innovation in the years ahead. “

We are not focusing on SolarCity financial results as their business model is pretty overwhelming, but it seem that like many other companies, SolarCity was hit hard on the NASDAQ, moving down below $20 per share, to the point from over two years ago.

SolarCity (source: Google Finance)

SolarCity (source: Google Finance)

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24 Comments on "SolarCity With Record 272 MW Of Installed Solar In Q4 At Record Low $2.71 Per Watt – Video"

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100% agree!

The installed installed watt price is low enough to easily compete with electrical utilities. With battery storage probably not so much.


Battery storage might soon be needed to make these systems financially viable. Nevada just killed its own rooftop solar industry by ending Net Metering and instituting higher monthly fees on solar power customers. Consumers will have to pay the utility company $20/mo for the privilege of putting solar on their roof through higher monthly fees, as well as getting wholesale prices (2.5c/kWh) for any energy they send back to the grid.

The ideal battery storage solution would need to be able to store 10 kWh during the day and then use that up at night, deferring the cost of $1.20 (12c/kWh) while only costing 20c to operate. At a savings of $1/day over 25 sunny days a month is enough to make up for the $20/mo fee. Of course, by the time we get there, NV Energy may just turn around and argue to the PUC that the fee needs to go up to $30/mo, defeating the entire purpose.

Cant let Warren Buffet’s purchase of NV Energy fail!

Too bad their lease model doesn’t pass those benefits to the consumer like it should. They run their business like a high pressure, high profit car dealership. Not the way to get more people to move to solar.

@Alon – install it yourself and you can have all the benefits for yourself.

SolarCity provides a different option for home owners or commercial building owners.

The usual setup with solar power is for the home owner or building owner to buy the panels and pay for the installation, and then spend some years paying back the upfront fee, until he can start earning money back for the investment.

SolarCity gives you some of the benefits of a solar power installation immediately, without having to wait for years. Of course, with that business plan, SolarCity doesn’t pass along all the benefits to the customer; SolarCity has to make a profit, too.

How is this a bad thing? I don’t know anything about their salesmen; if you say they’re high pressure, perhaps that’s so. But looking at the business model, it’s hard to see how offering consumers a “can’t lose” choice is the bad thing you seem to be saying it is.

At these prices investing in this 60% dip is a fairly wise idea.
They have many systems they lease out at very good profit as many already paid back their cost and now near pure profit lease payments of likely 40%/yr ROI for
20 yrs.
At $2.71/wt payback is like 2 yrs where they install makes a good profit over 20 yrs.
Of course I’d never lease as much better to buy.
Contract your own and buy part at like sunelec and have a local electrician to permit, install is $1.50-$2/wt now before tax credits.
It takes some studying to learn what to buy but you save like $100/hr learning it and you’ll understand how to use it best.

THe problem with these articles is that they never state the obvious question.

Does this mean that I can get a 10,000 watt solar system installed for $27,100.00 cash prior to credits?

I think the business model is to lease the system to the consumer. I may be wrong but I believe they collect the tax credit and any other SERC or state/utility incentives. They do not operate in any states that do not have an SERC market or other incentive program. these incentives are necessary to get the price below $2.71 a watt.

I’m sure that is the price for a state with srecs, and after they sell the srecs. It sounds way to low before credits.

No, this is total BS.
You CANNOT get a 10kW system for $27,100 before incentives.

This is because the statistic is heavily skewed by SolarCity’s commercial projects. A residential solar system is around $4.00/W from SolarCity.

I absolutely hate “rent to own” and have never bought anything that way. You end up paying for the item twice, once to pay for the item itself and a second time to pay for the carrying charges.

On average, Americans only stay in a house around 6 years, then they move leaving their solar panels behind. That said, I suppose Solar City’s lease to own program may actually make some financial sense, as long as your monthly bill from Solar City is less than your electric utility bill would be. How much cash money did you have to put down when you signed the lease.?

I’ve often thought that the lease to buy business model ends up making the solar provider a kind of de facto electric utility where the consumer still ends up “owing his soul to the company store.”.

We went with NRG and a single payment lease..did not want to own a system that in 20 years would be so outdated. So for the 20 years they maintain and warranty the entire system, and the must remove it in 20 years at no cost.

The monthly prorated cost is $65 (with a guaranteed annual generation of 12,500 kWhs) and with $20 grid fees our bill for all home and driving needs is $85. Works very well for me.

jmac said:

“On average, Americans only stay in a house around 6 years, then they move leaving their solar panels behind.”

…which is why SolarCity’s business model is so attractive to many people. If you’re going to move in a few years, then buying and installing solar panels doesn’t make much sense. You wouldn’t have time to earn back the investment.

I don’t see why people here are so down on SolarCity. Nobody is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to contract with them. It’s an option; it gives home owners and commercial building owners in regions with “net metering” an option they otherwise wouldn’t have.

If you don’t like SolarCity’s business model, then simply don’t do business with them.

@ The Llamas

There’s an old saying: “The borrower is servant to the lender” It’s best to pay cash up front for everything that you can, then nobody’s got their hooks in you.

Several people have already mentioned the most cost effective way to do solar is simply to do it yourself. This saves gobs of money since about half the total cost of solar is labor.

Save up enough for the panels, the mounting racks and the inverter. If you run a little short on money, then maybe get a small, low interest loan from your credit union or just put up as many panels as you can afford at one time. Later add more as the money comes in.

Get friends and relatives to help you. My brother tricked me like that once. He bought $500 worth of fencing, then suckered me into helping him put it up.

For people who are not handy, there is always Solar City.

I encourage you to ask Solar City for a quote and see for yourself. They are charging over double the cost of the system over the life of the lease and encouraging (actually bullying) purchasers into an MLM scheme to become salespeople for them. The ability to move with one of their systems on your roof isn’t as easy as the salespeople would have you believe. You are stuck either paying the remainder of the lease (again, twice the cost of the system) or passing on the lease (and its yearly increasing costs) to a purchaser, with a lien on the house the whole time. After a thorough read of the contract, I realized it would be a very difficult sell for a home buyer to take on. It is not a good deal and anyone considering working with them should sit down with an Excel spreadsheet and do the math. They bury the real numbers and have you sign the same day based off some “windshield” numbers on the first page. I should have hung up when I heard the bell and the cheering when I was on the phone with the salesperson or “solar engineer” or whichever of… Read more »


It is really sad to see, that the US price for solar is still around 2.7$/Wp when the European is already around 1.5 – 2 €/Wp. The shipping from China should not cost more. Therefore the US could reach a price close to 1.7-2.2$/Wp. This is a cost saving of nealry 40% that is still untouched.

2.7 $ is the total cost for SolarCity, including everything, like costs for sales. In the chart you can see that their cost for panels + installation (without overhead) is 1.9 $. I have the impression you talk about panels only, without installation.

I suspect he is talking installation price. We still pay the piper a decent amount. Funny how the regulatory burden in Europe, specifically Germany, is way lower than ours.

It is somewhat an economy of scale in Germany.

My system is 3 years old and I paid $30k for 6kw. But the actual equipment cost was something like $12k. The actual labor was $2k. $16k was in profit and paperwork “costs”. I paid $6k net after incentives.

I live in Europe and I just got an offer for complete 10 KWp system installation for 18.000 EUR inculding 22% VAT. It includes panels, installation, converter and most of the paper work for needed for registration. It is proffesional company with panels produced in Germany so you can surly find cheaper offer.

You guys made me go look up what I payed for my system in 2009…7 years ago already.

After all the incentives it was $2.62/watt

not bad glad I did it.