Tesla Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel has confirmed that the company started solar cell production at Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo.
Furthermore, the executive has also updated the company’s production goal to 2 GW of capacity per year.
Previously, SolarCity, which started the project of the Buffalo plant with the acquisition of Silevo in 2014 before it was itself acquired by Tesla, guided for an annual production capacity of 1 GW of solar panels at the factory.
It would have made it the biggest solar panel factory in the country, but they also left the door open for further expansions.
Now Straubel says that they are looking at ways to improve efficiency to reach that goal after their target of 1 GW in 2019. He told Associated Press today:
“One gigawatt is equivalent to the annual output of a large nuclear or coal-fired power plant, so it’s like we’re eliminating one of those every single year.”
Construction work and installation of equipment had fallen behind at the factory in Buffalo, but after Tesla acquired SolarCity, they took over the management of the project and christened the solar factory ‘Gigafactory 2’.
Then they made a deal with Panasonic to start manufacturing solar products at the factory with $250 million investment – a deal reminiscent of Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 deal for battery production.
8 months later, Straubel confirmed that they started solar cell production at the plant and they are now ramping up to meet the solar roof tile demand:
“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.”
Earlier this month, Tesla confirmed that they started solar roof installations at home of CEO Elon Musk and other employees, including Straubel’s house.
They were making the solar roof modules at their pilot factory in Fremont, California, but they needed to get the Buffalo factory running to move to volume production and customer installations.
As we previously reported, Tesla’s solar roof tiles were reportedly already sold out ‘well into 2018’ just weeks after the launch earlier this year.
It looks like customers will be able to start getting the solar roof system now that production started at Tesla’s Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo. Some Tesla vehicle owners even got “early installation token” for the solar roof through Tesla’s Model S and Model X referral program.