The two tech giants will manufacture photovoltaic cells and modules at SolarCity's Buffalo factory.
Tesla and Panasonic have announced they will work in partnership to manufacturer photovoltaic solar panel cells and modules at SolarCity’s new Gigafactory in Buffalo, New York.
The two tech giants have signed a non-binding letter of intent. The deal depends on Tesla’s shareholders approving the company’s acquisition of SolarCity. A vote is due to take place on November 17.
Tesla says the cells will be used in a “solar energy system” able to charge Powerwall and Powerpack modules, as well as electricity grid storage facilities.
Production is expected to start at the $750 million, 1.2 million square-foot (111,484 square meter) factory in 2017. The state of New York actually owns the factory, and rents it to SolarCity at a much-reduced rate, on the basis that the company recruits the vast majority of its staff locally.
Like Tesla’s own battery production facility in Nevada, the Buffalo factory has been dubbed a "Gigafactory", in that it has a production capability of one gigawatt of solar panel capacity.
Tesla and Panasonic already work in partnership, including on the production of electric cars and grid storage battery cells at the Nevada Gigafactory.
“We are excited to expand our partnership with Panasonic as we move towards a combined Tesla and SolarCity,” said Tesla co-founder JB Straubel. “By working together on solar, we will be able to accelerate production of high-efficiency, extremely reliable solar cells and modules at the best cost.”
Vice-president of Panasonic’s Eco Solutions Company, Shuuji Okayama, added: “Panasonic PV cells and modules boast industry-leading power generation performance, and achieve high quality and reliability. We expect that the collaboration talks will lead to growth of the Tesla and Panasonic relationship.”
Tesla calls the partnership “an important step in creating fully-integrated energy products for businesses, home owners and ultilities, and furthers Tesla’s missions toward a sustainable energy future.”