10 January 2018

Tesla’s new Gigafactory aims to revolutionise rooftop solar

Tesla’s new Gigafactory in Buffalo, New York has started large-scale production of its rooftop solar glass tiles with Elon Musk pledging that it will transform the rooftop solar industry.

Tesla unveiled its innovative solar roof in 2016 and started small-scale production last September after it completed its pilot installation program, which helped to validate the reliability of the technology.

The news came from Peter Fannon, Vice President of Technology Policy at Panasonic Corporation of North America; in an interview with the Consumer Technology Association (CES), he said: “Panasonic is already inside that factory making solar panels. That started in October of last year. We are also beginning to manufacture cells”.

The ‘Gigafactory 2’ will produce solar PV cells and modules under a partnership between Tesla Inc and Panasonic, which will be responsible for the manufacturing of solar cells to look like computer chips. Tesla will then incorporate them into roof tiles.

These particular roof tiles aim to change the way that rooftop solar installations are perceived, as they will be able to produce clean electricity without compromising the “aesthetic” side of the roof replacing conventional bricks with energy-generating ones.

Elon Musk has previously said: "Solar Roof is more affordable than conventional roofs because in most cases, it ultimately pays for itself by reducing or eliminating a home’s electricity bill. It is the most durable roof available and the glass itself will come with a warranty for the lifetime of your house, or infinity, whichever comes first”.

New York City has invested $750 million to support the construction of the 1.2 million square foot factory in Buffalo. It currently employees approximately 500 people, but according to Governor Andrew Cuomo, the Gigafactory will eventually create another 3,000 jobs in Western New York and nearly 5,000 state-wide.

Panasonic has initially invested $260 million in the facility, but with manufacturing kicking-off, it is expected to put in more funds to scale up production. 

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