By Green Energy Times Staff
With its acquisition of SolarCity, Tesla now makes solar cells and modules in addition to electric cars and batteries. It has entered into a partnership with Panasonic to begin manufacturing photovoltaic products in a facility in Buffalo, New York. A new product expected from the Buffalo plant, not offered by others as yet, is the solar roof shingles Elon Musk announced last year.
The original plan to set up manufacturing in Buffalo had been put forth by SolarCity. The new plan commits Tesla to the same goals SolarCity had. The company intends to employ 1,400 people in the Buffalo area, including 500 in manufacturing jobs.
Panasonic is putting up the capital for the Buffalo operations and will provide technological and manufacturing expertise. For its part, Tesla is committing to long-term purchases of solar products from the plant, which it will undertake to sell. Tesla and Panasonic have been developing a close working relationship, including building the Gigafactory in Nevada, which has just started mass production of lithium-ion batteries.
The partnership of Tesla and Panasonic also develops new photovoltaic technology in a plant in Fremont, California. Products from the Buffalo plant are designed to work seamlessly with other products of Tesla and Panasonic, including with the Powerwall and Powerpack battery systems.
Production of finished photovoltaic products in Buffalo will begin in the summer of 2017. The plan is to expand production until it reaches one gigawatt of solar capacity per year in 2019. The initial products will be high-efficiency solar cells and modules. Once these are being produced, solar shingles will be produced, as well.