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CATL, the world’s largest EV battery maker, is leading a new solar cell development initiative, joining Tesla and others in what is expected to be a record year for the industry.

CATL is tapping into the growing solar energy market

After emerging as the most important player in the electric vehicle battery market for the sixth year in a row, CATL is entering a new market.

Agreed BloombergCATL is investigating the development of perovskite solar cells. The innovation holds promise, potentially increasing solar power and lowering costs.

Perovskite solar cells have made great strides over the past decade, from roughly 3% in 2009 to more than 25%. However, there are still hurdles, including limited sustainability compared to leading photovoltaic (PV) technology.

Although no further details were offered, CATL said: “We’re building a pilot test line.” CATL has also signed a strategic partnership agreement with JA Solar to collaborate and develop together in the photovoltaic industry, according to JA Solar’s LinkedIn.

Tesla, which sources from CATL, saw solar installations grow 40% year over year to 67MW in the first quarter. BYD, China’s largest electronics maker, says it can produce about 5 GW of panels a year.

CATL aims to achieve carbon neutrality in core operations by 2025 (Source: CATL)

Transition to clean energy

The news comes as a record number of solar panels are expected to be installed this year. In fact, for the first time, clean energy investment led by solar is expected to surpass fossil fuels in 2023, according to a new IEA report.

Of the $2.8 trillion to be invested in the global energy sector, more than $1.7 trillion is expected to go to clean energy such as renewables, EVs and battery storage.

Annual Clean Energy Investments (Source: IEA)

Predictions from: BloombergNEF predict that solar installations will grow another 36% this year to 344 GW.

Meanwhile, as Tesla noted in its Q1 earnings call, the solar industry has been “impacted by supply chain challenges” centered in China. Several analysts and other organizations have called for a more diverse solar supply chain.

Electrek’s Take:

For CATL, as a battery manufacturer, it makes sense to get into solar panels. Many home and commercial solar systems are now paired with battery storage (like Tesla’s Powerwall) to provide backup power in the event of a power outage.

With sufficient battery capacity, CATL will have the opportunity for a universal home energy system to generate higher revenues and take advantage of two huge growing trends in battery storage and solar panels.

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