June 17, 2014 / 5:25 PM / 4 years ago

SolarCity buys solar panel maker to lower costs

June 17 (Reuters) - SolarCity Corp, the largest residential solar panel installer in the United States, said it would buy solar panel maker Silevo in a bid to drive down costs.

SolarCity’s shares rose 18 percent to $64.77 on Tuesday on the Nasdaq.

The company, backed by Tesla Motors Inc's founder Elon Musk, will pay $200 million in shares and an additional $150 million in shares upon the achievement of certain milestones, SolarCity said in a regulatory filing. (link.reuters.com/kax22w)

“Given that there is excess supplier capacity today, this may seem counter-intuitive ...” SolarCity Chairman Musk and co-founders Peter Rive and Lyndon Rive wrote in a blog.

“Without decisive action to lay the groundwork today, the massive volume of affordable, high efficiency panels needed for unsubsidized solar power to outcompete fossil fuel grid power simply will not be there when it is needed.”

A glut of panels, mostly produced in China, has depressed prices, but analysts have warned that SolarCity may be affected by the United States’ recently imposed import duties on solar panels and other related products from China.

The tariff could push up average panel prices to more than 80 cents per watt, from about 72 cents, Roth Capital Partners analyst Philip Shen wrote in a note earlier this month. (Reporting by Swetha Gopinath in Bangalore; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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