Tesla’s Gigafactory in New Buffalo, NY, will actually be a Panasonic manufacturing facility. Under the agreement jointly announced by the companies today Japan's Panasonic will cover capital costs for the manufacturing facility in New York, which Panasonic has said will be in excess of $256 million.
The companies previously announced they would partner on solar cell production at the Buffalo plant in October, ahead of the SolarCity acquisition completion, but at that point details were not discussed. In exchange for covering capital costs, Tesla has signed a long-term purchase commitment for the solar cells and panels produced at the factory.
SolarCity originally signed agreements for the plant in New York, aiming to launch its Silevo photovoltaic technology into mass production at the facility, creating thousands of jobs in the process. The company had acquired Silevo for $350 million. New York also has invested significantly in the project, promising $750 million for the facility.
“Tesla reaffirms SolarCity’s commitment to create over 1,400 jobs in Buffalo—including more than 500 manufacturing jobs,” the companies said in a joint statement. “Panasonic, with its technological and manufacturing expertise in PV production, will also work with Tesla on developing PV next generation technology at SolarCity’s facility in Fremont, CA.”
That could possibly refer to developing the Silevo technology for future solar panels and devices. When SolarCity acquired the company it said the technology promised solar panels in excess of 21.8 percent efficiency levels, which would make them among the most efficient modules in the market. Panasonic’s solar modules boast efficiency levels as high as 19.7 percent efficient in late 2016.
Now, initially, the manufacturing will focus on producing high-efficiency PV cells and modules for Tesla. It also will supply PV cells for Tesla’s innovative solar roof products.
“When production of the solar roof begins, Tesla will also incorporate Panasonic's cells into the many kinds of solar glass tile roofs that Tesla will be manufacturing,” the companies stated. Panasonic will begin producing solar panels at the facility next summer. By 2019 production at the facility is expected to reach 1 gigawatt of annual PV module production.
“All of these solar products will work seamlessly with Tesla’s energy storage products, Powerwall and Powerpack,” the companies said. They should be able to. After all, Panasonic and Tesla recently signed an agreement to produce electric vehicle and grid storage battery cells at the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada.Tweet