Solar Energy News: SolarCity Brand Could Be On Its Way Out, North America Vows to Reach 50% Renewable Energy Generation, SunPower Breaks Own Record For Solar Panel Efficiency

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The solar industry has been abuzz in the wake of the proposed Tesla-SolarCity merger, and a number of exciting developments surfaced this week in response. An IPO announcement from solar installer Sungevity, SunPower’s latest record-breaking panel efficiency and a clean energy pact between Canada, Mexico and the U.S. are the key stories from this week’s Solar Energy News report.

SunPower Breaks Solar Panel Efficiency Record, Again

SunPower is known primarily for its sleek black solar panels, but in recent years it has distinguished itself in another way: as the company that breaks its own panel efficiency records. SunPower has surpassed its own record for solar panel efficiency three times in the past year. The latest: 24.1 percent efficiency, a significant increase from its last record of 22.8 percent set back in March. The record was confirmed by the Department of Energy and signifies the ability of a silicon solar panel to convert sunlight into electricity at a more cost effective rate. To put the capabilities of SunPower panels in perspective, standard solar panels typically convert between 15 and 18 percent of absorbed sunlight into power.

Tesla Applies for Solar Industry Trademarks Amidst SolarCity Acquisition

The proposed integration of Elon Musk’s two clean energy ventures has attracted major attention from numerous industries in the past two weeks. Tesla’s next move in the unfolding story was to apply for a number of solar trademarks focused around solar modules, repairs, installation and sales for the PV industry. Though board members are still supposedly reviewing the merger, these quick actions by Tesla’s legal team reveal that SolarCity will very likely take on the Tesla name, highlighting Musk’s dream for an all-in-one clean energy company. 

U.S., Canada and Mexico Pledge to Generate 50% of Energy from Renewables by 2025

A major clean energy pact was made this week as representatives of the United States, Canada, and Mexico unanimously vowed to source 50 percent of their energy from renewables by 2025. The commitment is a collective agreement between the three countries. To achieve the 50 percent goal, each nation will require the support of the other, making for a landmark collaborative agreement. U.S. President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto met on Wednesday to make the announcement to the press. Solar, wind, and hydropower are the primary sources of energy that will be deployed to meet this goal. 

Solar Installer Sungevity Goes Public 

Sungevity announced intentions to launch an IPO this week in a planned merger with mergers and acquisitions group Easterly Acquisition. This announcement is the second in as many weeks from the U.S. residential PV market, following close behind news of the potential merger between Tesla and SolarCity. With summer heating up almost as quickly as the residential solar market, there could soon be more announcements to come for U.S. PV companies hoping to not be outmuscled in a saturated industry. The plan collectively values the company at $357 million. 

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