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Amazon Joins Walmart in Its Complaints of Tesla’s Solar Systems

published: 2019-08-29 0:00

Credit: Flickr/Michael Coghlan

According to Bloomberg’s report, Amazon joins Wal-Mart and confirms that there had been a fire on the roof of one of its warehouses in Redlands, California, involving a solar system installed by Tesla’s SolarCity division. Clearly, the fire incident at Wal-Mart cannot be regarded as an isolated event.

Walmart filed a lawsuit against Tesla in the New York Supreme Court last week. The retail giant claimed that Tesla's solar modules have been negligently installed and maintained, causing at least seven of its stores to ignite from 2012 to 2018. Walmart has also sought damages from Tesla regarding the stores and commodities which are affected and destroyed. Tesla's solar modules also have to be removed from the roofs of the 240 Walmart stores.

Wal-Mart described that the maintenance personnel sent by Tesla lacked basic solar power training and knowledge. They failed to properly install solar power plants and energy storage systems. The installed solar modules have many hot spots, cracks, etc. Some of the said defects are visible to the naked eye. The rest can also be detected by general standard equipment.

Bloomberg’s report on last Saturday pointed out that Wal-Mart is not the only victim. Tesla’s rooftop solar system also ignited on the rooftop of one of the Amazon warehouses.

Bloomberg has sought verification from Amazon, which sent an e-mail statement confirming that there had indeed been a fire accident in the Amazon warehouse in Redlands, California, where the Tesla rooftop solar modules have caught fire. Amazon has taken security measures and has no plans to install more of Tesla's solar modules. Fortunately, there are not many Amazon warehouses that are equipped with Tesla's solar energy system.

Tesla has responded that there are currently 11 Amazon sites with Tesla solar modules installed. Regular monitoring and maintenance have been carried out. It has been detected that a certain solar inverter was problematic in 2018. Tesla has been working with Amazon to provide mitigations and comprehensive inspections.

What Exactly Set the Inverters on Fire?
It is still unclear why the solar power systems would burst into flames. Tesla pointed out that there have been problems with the internal components of the solar modules, claiming that Amphenol's electrical connectors are defective. The said connectors experienced malfunctioning and disruptions at such a rate that they are not compliant with Tesla’s standard. Tesla is currently working on replacing the electrical connectors as well.

This statement has been rejected by Amphenol Corp., indicating that its own products are not the cause of the fire on Wal-Mart solar modules. The solar connectors are compliant with the UL standards, which is a third-party inspection organization.

The cause of Tesla's solar fire is still unclear. However, the controversy surrounding the fire accidents of the solar modules does not help Tesla’s solar business, which is already precarious to begin with. If large and influential customers such as Wal-Mart and Amazon are disenchanted with Tesla, there is a possibility that smaller customers will follow suit.

Not to mention that Tesla Solar has not been doing well this year. Tesla has lost about US$700 million in the first quarter. The energy storage and solar energy business have decreased by 21% year-over-year. The PV installed capacity has decreased by 36% YOY, from 74 MW in Q1 2018 to 47 MW in Q1 2019. Tesla has installed only 29 MW of solar energy in Q2 2019, down 65% year-over-year.

Read the original TechNews article by Daisy Chuang

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