Tesla finally started construction on what could become ‘the world’s largest solar rooftop array’ at Gigafactory 1 in Nevada.
Now that can be a little confusing because Tesla actually has a “solar Gigafactory”, known as Gigafactory 2, in Buffalo where they manufacture solar products with Panasonic, but the actual plant is powered by hydro-electricity.
Gigafactory 1 is where Tesla produces battery cells with Panasonic, energy storage products for Tesla Energy, as well as its own Model 3 battery packs and drive units.
Tesla has the ambition to eventually power the factory entirely from renewable energy and in January 2017, they announced that they have plans for a giant 70 MW rooftop array, which would be the largest in the world by a wide margin.
The company wrote at the time:
“GF1 is an all-electric factory with no fossil fuels (natural gas or petroleum) directly consumed. We will be using 100% sustainable energy through a combination of a 70 MW solar rooftop array and solar ground installations. The solar rooftop array is ~7x larger than the largest rooftop solar system installed today.”
To be fair, there are much bigger solar farms out there that are installed on the ground, but Tesla is talking about rooftop solar arrays.
The Gigafactory 1 has a giant roof in the middle of the desert so it makes sense to install a giant solar array on top of it.
But a year after the announcement, there was no sign of a solar array at Tesla’s battery factory… until now.
The latest satellite imagery of the Gigafactory 1 construction site shows that solar panels are finally coming up on the north side of the factory (image via Building Tesla):
We reached out to Tesla about a comment on the new solar array and we will update if we get an answer.
Our main question is whether or not Tesla is using its own new Panasonic solar modules manufactured at Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, creating some new synergy between Tesla’s two gigafactories.
Gigafactory 2 started solar module production last year and it is now reportedly also producing solar roof tiles.
As we previously reported, the current Gigafactory 1 structure has a 1.9 million square-foot footprint. Including several levels, the factory currently is about 4.9 million square feet of operational space. This represents only ~30 percent of the planned completed Gigafactory, according to Tesla.
Originally, the plant was supposed to produce 35 GWh of battery cells and 50 GWh of battery packs. The company later claimed to have found ways to improve efficiency and increase production capacity to 105 GWh of battery cells and 150 GWh of battery packs within the same structure.