Tesla and Panasonic start solar energy factory in New York

Tesla's Gigafactory in Buffalo, NY.

Tesla and Panasonic have joined forces to manufacture solar photovoltaic cells and modules at a factory in New York.

The high-efficiency PV cells and modules will be used to produce solar panels in the non-solar roof products, according a statement from Tesla.

“When production of the solar roof begins, Tesla will also incorporate Panasonic’s cells into the many kinds of solar glass tile roofs that Tesla will be manufacturing,” the December statement said.

“All of these solar products will work seamlessly with Tesla’s energy storage products, Powerwall and Powerpack. Production of the first PV modules will begin in summer 2017, and will ramp to 1 Gigawatt of module production by 2019.”

As part of the agreement, Panasonic will cover required capital costs in Buffalo and Tesla is making a long-term purchase commitment from Panasonic.

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

Last week, Tesla announced mass production of lithium-ion battery cells had begun, which will be used in Tesla’s energy storage products and Model 3.

“The high performance cylindrical 2170 cell was jointly designed and engineered by Tesla and Panasonic to offer the best performance at the lowest production cost in an optimal form factor for both electric vehicles and energy products,” Tesla said.

“Production of 2170 cells for qualification started in December and today (January 4), production begins on cells that will be used in Tesla’s Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2 energy products. Model 3 cell production will follow in Q2 and by 2018, the Gigafactory will produce 35 GWh/year of lithium-ion battery cells, nearly as much as the rest of the entire world’s battery production combined.”

The Gigafactory is being built in phases so that Tesla, Panasonic, and other partners can begin manufacturing immediately inside the finished sections and continue to expand thereafter.

In 2017, Tesla and Panasonic are expected to hire several thousand local employees and at peak production, the Gigafactory will directly employ 6500 people and indirectly create between 20,000 to 30,000 additional jobs in the surrounding regions.