The company, according to Musk himself, nearly went bankrupt during the Tesla Model 3 ramp up from mid-2017 to mid-2019, and the stock traded as low as $35. But here on the cusp of 2021, the transformation from car company to a vehicle for every investor's dreams is complete.
Tesla stock trades at a multiple of sales that puts even the best tech companies to shame. Of the FANMAG stocks everyone is so enamored with (Facebook, Apple, Netflix, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google), only one trades for more than 10 times sales (Microsoft at 11 times). Amazon, the stock all value investors have shunned due to its “insane” valuation is the cheapest of the bunch at just 4.7 times sales. Tesla stock, meanwhile, trades at a nose bleed inducing 21.5 times sales. Not being a mere car company allows investors to imbue the company with qualities that cannot be quantified. A clear example is in the Solar PV industry, where Tesla is a strong player.
As per the latest information from SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association), the U.S. installed 5.7 gigawatts (GWdc) of solar PV capacity in Q2 2021 is expected to reach 108.7 GWdc of total installed capacity, enough to power 18.9 million American homes. The US officially surpassed 3 million installations across all market segments, the vast majority of which are residential systems. Before the investment tax credit (ITC) fully phases down under current law, the solar industry will continue to break annual installation records every year for the next three years at least.
US rooftops could host enough capacity to produce an annual 4.2 petawatt-hours (PWh) per year, which slightly surpasses the country’s current total energy output of around 4 Pwh per year. (The Petawatt (PW) is equal to one quadrillion  watts.), according to scientists at the University of Cork in Ireland, who conducted a thorough study on global rooftop solar PV potential (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-25720-2). And that’s just the start, because solar panels are currently around 15-22% efficient, which continues to improve with technological innovations.
Solar panel efficiency is the percentage of sunlight a single solar panel can convert into electricity. The US has enough usable rooftop space to deploy enough solar power that would match its current generation levels, according to that study.
The U.S. solar industry had a record year in 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie. The report found the industry added a record 19.2 gigawatts of new capacity during 2020, a 43% jump from 2019. By 2030, solar installations are expected to quadruple from current levels. In this scenario, First Solar is the largest US-based solar panel manufacturer with an annual production of 1.9GW of solar modules.
Between 2006 and 2018, the installed capacity of the RTSPV (Roof Top Solar Photo Voltaic) has grown from 2.5 GW to 213 GW- an 85-fold increase globally. With an additional capacity installation of 41 GW, RTSPV currently accounts for 40% of the global cumulative installed capacity of the solar PV and nearly one-fourth of the total renewable capacity additions in 2018 - surpassing the combined new installed capacities of both coal and nuclear. At the same time, RTSPV technology has demonstrated a steep decline in its deployment costs which ranged between 63 and 265 $ MWh in the year 2019 - a reduction of between 42 and 79% over 2010 values.
Tesla installed 1,274 megawatt-hours of energy storage in the second quarter of 2021, a 205% increase from the same period last year. Similarly, the amount of solar energy deployed in the second quarter of this year was 85 MWh, up 214% from Q2 2020. Going back in time, in 2016 Tesla acquired the “SolarCity” company, which was the U.S. leading residential solar installer at the time, coincidentally founded by the cousin of Tesla CEO, Elon Musk. Right after that, a myriad of other solar manufacturers entered the residential solar market, and some of those leaders, such as Sunrun and Vivint Solar, have battled Tesla to be the market leader.
At the moment, the 3 key features that Tesla excels at are: a) Tesla solar panels: standard rectangular panels normally associated with typical solar installations; b) Tesla Solar Roof: solar tiles designed to cover the entire roof and look like the tiles or shingles themselves, instead of panels on top of the roof; c) Tesla Powerwall: a rechargeable battery that Tesla can install in conjunction with new solar systems or add to existing systems to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of energy use in the home.
The main features of Tesla solar panels are a 24/7 monitoring system which allows you to control the panels at any time and from anywhere in the world through a mobile application. It tracks the performance, efficiency and generation of the panels, in addition to detecting any problems in the system in real time. Another important detail has to do with the looks: Tesla prioritizes the design of its roof panels in a way that the competition does not, creating a sleek, blended, low-profile installation that provides direct curb appeal.
At this pace, if Tesla continues with that 205% growth rate, and based on the market information available at the time of writing this article, Tesla Solar will dominate the US Roof Top Solar Photo Voltaic industry very soon.
Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.