It’s official! Tesla has started producing solar roof tiles at its factory in Buffalo, New York. Several hundred employees and machines have been installed in the 1.2 million-square-foot factory, and they are now creating tiles that can harness the sun’s energy without compromising the appearance of a roof.
The company is already installing solar roofs but has been making them on a small scale near its vehicle factory in Fremont, California. Now that the factory in Buffalo is running, production is expected to increase substantially. Reportedly, traditional solar panels will also be produced in the factory.
AP News reports that Tesla’s partner, Panasonic Corp., will produce the photovoltaic cells while Tesla workers combine them into modules that fit into the solar tiles. Said JB Straubel, Tesla’s Chief Technical Officer, “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.”
SolarCity was acquired by Tesla last year for around $2 billion. It was run by cousins of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who sat on the company’s board. Straubel said, “This factory, and the opportunity to build solar modules and cells in the U.S., was part of why this project made sense.”
According to Straubel, Tesla’s goal is to reach two gigawatts of cell production annually at the Buffalo plant — more than the initial target of one gigawatt by 2019. As The Washington Post reports, one gigawatt is equal 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,” Straubel said.
Tesla has not revealed how many customers have ordered the solar roof tiles. However, Straubel said demand is strong and that orders will keep the company occupied until the end of next year. Both he and Musk have the solar tiles installed on their roofs.
Images via Tesla