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Tesla Gigafactory 1: new aerial picture shows latest progress at the battery factory

Three years into the project, Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Nevada is now more than 2 months into its first battery cell production. The factory is also now producing both Powerpack 2 and Powerwall 2 battery packs for stationary energy storage to use those new cells and finally, it is preparing for the start of Model 3 production with new battery cell lines and drive unit production lines.

While it’s starting to become a real producing factory, it’s still very much in construction and we now get a new look at the latest progress.

We haven’t seen the exterior of the plant since January 2017 when Panasonic started battery cell production and Tesla released new aerial shots and later a drone video of the factory.

Earlier this week, NM Group, an infrastructure mapping firm, was mapping a powerline project in Nevada near Tesla’s Gigafactory and they took the picture seen above and below.

It shows that Tesla completed the exterior of the 4 latest sections. Those were still under construction in January. Here is a side-by-side comparison of aerial shots from January (left) and taken earlier this week – March 2017 (right):

The current structure has a 1.9 million square-foot footprint and about 4.9 million square feet of operational space. It represents only ~30 percent of the total finished Gigafactory.

It also shows that the round structure behind the factory is completed. There has been speculation about what it could be, but it looks like a very large water reservoir.

Tesla disclosed that it has been working on a closed-loop water supply system for the factory:

“Gigafactory’s closed-loop water supply system uses six different treatment systems to efficiently re-circulate about 1.5 million liters of water, representing an 80% reduction in fresh water usage compared with standard processes.”

The company aims to use “100% sustainable energy” at the factory.

The primary source will be a 70 MW solar array that will be installed on the roof of the building and it will be complemented by another solar array on the ground.

There’s no word on when they will start construction on those projects, but it has been speculated that the company is waiting on the start of production at the Buffalo plant, now known as ‘Gigafactory 2’, in order to use those solar panels for the projects.

The latest picture also shows that the facility is quite busy with a dozen parking sections filled with hundreds of cars in each section. It’s something that we recently noted in our piece: “Tesla Gigafactory: the Potemkin village looks more like a burgeoning city as workers start production“.

Tesla says that it currently employs over 1,000 full-time employees at the plant and that it is adding hundreds more every month. Its manufacturing partners on location also employ hundreds more, like Panasonic with over 300 employees and we recently reported on a German battery can maker, H&T Battery Components, who expect to employ over 100 employees at the Gigafactory.

It’s still only a fraction of the more than 10,000 employees that are expected to work at the plant once it reaches full production of 150 GWh of battery packs output, which is expected in 2020 according to the company.

Current production levels are unknown, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently showed confidence in new battery production by saying Tesla could deliver 100+ MWh in 100 days or it’s free.

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Avatar for Fred Lambert Fred Lambert

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