Last week, Tesla Gigafactory 1 (GF1), where it will produce batteries for its vehicles and home and commercial energy storage Powerwall and Powerpack units, began production. Now it’s come to light that the giant factory also will produce no carbon emissions and host the world’s largest rooftop solar installation—by far—with 70 megawatts of solar panels producing the energy needed to produce Tesla’s battery systems.
“GF1 is an all-electric factory with no fossil fuels (natural gas or petroleum) directly consumed. We will be using 100 percent sustainable energy through a combination of a 70 MW solar rooftop array and solar ground installations,” Tesla stated in a handout to investors who toured the facility recently. “The solar rooftop array is ~7x larger than the largest rooftop solar system installed today.”
To put it into a better scale, Tesla’s GF1, which the company has said will be the largest production facility in the world—when completed, could be as large as 10 million square feet, according to Steve Hill, director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development in Nevada in 2015. The Boeing Everett factory in Washington State, by comparison, has a 4.3 million-square-foot footprint and may be the world’s largest production facility at present. In dwarfing the size of that, GF1 will have ample rooftop space to also dwarf what’s now the largest rooftop solar installation in the world, an 11.5 MW rooftop array in Punjab, India, and the largest in the US, at the Whirlpool Corporation Regional Distribution Center in Perris, CA.
It’s also likely that the solar panels will come from its sister factory in Buffalo, NY, through its manufacturing partner, Panasonic. Tesla also is using Panasonic’s technology in the batteries it’s producing at GF1. The facility is designed to be flexible to allow for improvements in battery technology, including chemistry and packaging changes.
The new, all-electric production facility is designed for efficiency, according to Tesla. Once completed it aims to achieve the lowest capital investment per gigawatt hour (GWh) and the lowest production cost per kilowatt hour (kWh). That’s including using waste heat recovered from production processes to heat the building, for instance. It’s also using a closed-loop water system with six different treatment systems that re-circulate about 1.5 million liters of water, allowing the facility to reduce its fresh water usage by 80 percent.Tweet