Tesla, Panasonic will jointly make solar modules

Tesla Motors and Panasonic will jointly manufacture cells for solar panels at a Tesla factory in Buffalo, the companies said Tuesday.

“These high-efficiency photovoltaic cells and modules will be used to produce solar panels in non-solar roof products,” Tesla said Tuesday.

Initial production of the solar modules is due to start during the second half of 2017 at the factory in upstate New York, the two companies said.

The $900 million factory project in Buffalo was launched by SolarCity, a green energy company that Tesla recently purchased.

Japan-based Panasonic agreed to contribute $256 million in capital costs for the factory.  The state of New York has agreed to chip in with incentives totaling $750 million.

SolarCity had started the Buffalo plant, but was forced to delay completion due to cash crunch issues.

Once the plant is fully operational, it’s expected to be the largest maker of solar cells in North America. The factory will employ 1,400 workers, including 500 people in manufacturing.

The plant, which will be 1 million square feet in size, is expected to produce at least 1 gigawatt of solar panels at peak output, according to a SolarCity filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Palo Alto-based Tesla and Panasonic are also teaming up on the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada.

“The collaboration in Buffalo extends the established relationship between Tesla and Panasonic, which includes the production of electric vehicle and grid storage battery cells at the Tesla Gigafactory,” Panasonic said.

Tesla’s and Panasonic’s joint efforts extend to the Bay Area.

“Panasonic, with its technological and manufacturing expertise in photovoltaic production, will also work with Tesla on developing PV next generation technology at SolarCity’s facility in Fremont,” the two companies said.

Tesla sees the various efforts as key cogs in the company’s push to diversify well beyond its production of electric vehicles in Fremont.

“The continued partnership between Tesla and Panasonic is an important step in creating fully-integrated energy products for businesses, home owners and utilities, and furthers Tesla’s mission toward a sustainable energy future,” Tesla said in a blog post.








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