The world’s largest EV battery maker, CATL, is spearheading a new initiative to develop solar cells, joining Tesla and others in what’s expected to be a record year for the industry.
CATL takes on the booming solar market
After emerging as the most significant player in the electric vehicle battery market for the sixth straight year, CATL is taking on a new market.
According to Bloomberg, CATL is examining perovskite solar cell development. The innovation holds promise, potentially enhancing solar performance and driving down costs.
Perovskite solar cells have advanced greatly over the past decade, going from roughly 3% efficiency in 2009 to over 25% today. However, there are still hurdles to clear, including limited stability compared to the leading photovoltaic (PV) technology.
Although no other details were offered, CATL said, “We are building a pilot test line.” CATL also signed a strategic partnership agreement with JA Solar to collaborate and jointly develop in the photovoltaic industry, according to JA Solar’s LinkedIn.
Tesla, which sources from CATL, saw solar deployments rise 40% YOY in the first quarter to 67 MW. China’s largest EV maker, BYD, says it can produce roughly 5 GW of panels annually.
Transitioning to cleaner energy
The news comes as a record number of solar panels are expected to be deployed this year. In fact, for the first time, clean energy investments led by solar are expected to outpace fossil fuels in 2023, according to a new IEA report.
Of the $2.8 trillion set to be invested in energy across the globe, over $1.7 trillion is expected to go toward clean energy, such as renewable energy, EVs, and battery storage.
Forecasts from BloombergNEF suggest solar installations will grow another 36% this year to 344 GW.
Meanwhile, as Tesla noted in its Q1 earnings, the solar industry has been “impacted by supply chain challenges” that are concentrated in China. Several analysts and other organizations have stated the need for a more diverse solar supply chain.
For CATL, it makes sense as a battery maker to get into solar panel production. Many home and commercial solar systems are now being paired with battery storage (like Tesla’s Powerwall) to provide backup energy in the event of a blackout.
With enough battery capacity, CATL will have the opportunity for an all-in-one home energy system to drive revenue further and take advantage of two huge growing trends in battery storage and solar panels.