Today (Aug. 31), Tesla announced that it’s started moving toward mass production of its solar roof tiles at its Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, NY, hiring on hundreds as it ramps up production. The company also said that it now plans to produce 2 gigawatts of solar cells annually at the facility once it’s at full-scale production. At almost the same time details about how the tiles work and connect as opposed to traditional solar panels.
All in all, it’s been a busy month for the company and its Solar Roof. Earlier in August it came to light that Tesla had made the first actual installations of the bellwether product at homes of CEO Elon Musk, Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel and other Tesla employees.
Until now Tesla had been manufacturing the rooftop tiles near its vehicle factory in Fremont, CA, Straubel told The Associated Press Thursday. But, “By the end of this year we will have the ramp-up of solar roof modules started in a substantial way. This is an interim milestone that we’re pretty proud of,” he told the AP.
The company had previously announced that once it reaches full production at the facility it and technology partner Panasonic, would be producing 1 gigawatt of solar cells there a year by 2019. Now it appears they’re lifting their sights higher as Straubel told AP it now plans to produce 2 gigawatts of annual PV cell production in Buffalo. He attributed the higher target to making the factory more efficient.
It’s a good thing the company is starting to ramp up production. Following the announcement that the roof would cost less than a standard roof, all things considered, and taking reservations, Tesla said it’s already seen demand for the product exceed its ability to produce the devices. It said the tiles were already sold out well into 2018.
Meanwhile, more details about the tiles themselves are coming to light. Whereas solar panels are connected by wires to each other, the solar tiles must lay on top of each to shed water like any other roof. So to eliminate wiring and connectors for the tiles, the patent covers a “cascaded-cell arrangement” where the solar tiles are bonded together with a heater that cures conductive adhesives allowing electrical conductivity between the roof tiles, that’s according to CB Insights, which reported on the patent. Tesla said it will provide a longer-lasting connection than other methods and give the tiles more longevity than conventional solar panels.Tweet