Japan-based Panasonic and U.S.-based Tesla Motors announced a new production collaboration on the relaunch of SolarCity’s solar cell/module manufacturing plant in Buffalo, New York, following the Gigafactory project in Nevada.
Nikkei BP reported that Panasonic and Tesla Motors has officially entered into an agreement on restarting SolarCity’s cell and module fab in Buffalo. According to the announcement published on December 27, the Buffalo plant will start production in the summer of 2017, and will ramp up to 1GW of capacity by 2019.
Nikkei BP’s report also revealed the possibility for the Buffalo fab to utilize next-generation technology, whereas EnergyTrend speculated that Panasonic may introduce its HIT® solution to the plant.
Panasonic will invest JPY 30 billion in the plant and will be responsible for manufacturing. Meanwhile, Tesla will purchase solar products manufactured in the Buffalo plant through a, reported, 10-year purchasing commitment. Tesla noted that the Buffalo plant’s operation will help create more than 1,000 jobs.
The solar panel co-made by Panasonic and Tesla will be utilized for various kinds of downstream solar projects, including rooftop systems and other ones. Tesla will integrate solar generation facilities with its self-developed energy storage decives, Powerwall and Powerpack
Also noted in the Nikke BP report was that Panasonic may restart production of its Nishikinohama plant in Osaka, Japan, which has been suspended since early 2016. Corporation with Tesla may help Panasonic to increase its overall utilization rates from 50%. By 2019, Panasonic’s module production capacity could even double from today.
(Photo: Panasonic's module display in this year's PV EXPO in Japan.)