Tesla is known for advanced technology, for innovating and pushing the limits of what people believe possible. Of their many different pursuits, clean energy is one of their biggest projects. Of those clean energy projects, few stand as tall as solar energy and the solar panels that produce it. But have you ever wondered where they get made?
Solar panels are made at Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, New York. However, the process is not such a straightforward one, as it includes the production of solar cells and then solar panels through a partnership between Tesla and other companies, which occurs under one roof at Gigafactory 2.
Solar panels involve several components, from the panels to the solar cells and mounting devices that make the final product possible. While the primary creation of the panels takes place in Gigafactory 2, it is important to know where every component originates. Read on to learn more about where Tesla makes their famous solar panels.
Gigafactory 2 – Where Tesla Makes Their Solar Panels
Tesla is famous for being difficult when it comes to finding information about their products and business practices. However, when it comes to their solar panels, it is a little easier to find out what is going on. In fact, Gigafactory 2 is quite a major undertaking and one present to the public due to its early promises.
Originally, Gigafactory 2 came into being with a promise from SolarCity, Tesla’s subsidiary, to create jobs and economic activity. With their plan and an attractive promise, previous plans were abandoned, and the State of New York offered Tesla the opportunity.
Therefore, Gigafactory 2, finished around 2017, was actually funded by the State of New York. The entire factory seems to be a joint project between the State of New York and Tesla. And, until recently, Tesla and their partner Panasonic created solar cells and solar panels there.
However, Panasonic has recently ended their partnership with Tesla, leaving the future of solar panel production in limbo. The recent departure of Panasonic is not the first time things have changed, however. Back when Gigafactory 2 opened in 2017, it did not even produce the solar cells for its own solar panels.
The Production of Solar Panels Occurs at Gigafactory 2
Although the origin of the solar cells and panels used by Tesla is uncertain and has changed over the years, Gigafactory 2 began production of solar panels in 2017 and still continues to produce them today. Some information about Gigafactory 2’s solar panel production:
- It began producing solar panels in 2017 through a partnership with Panasonic
- It has the capacity to produce up to 70,000 solar panels per week
- It produces enough panels in a year to create a gigawatt of energy
While the actual process of production is a well-kept secret, the stats known about Gigafactory 2 are impressive. With such a massive production facility, Tesla is capable of making all of their solar panels in one place, so you know where the product is coming from.
However, as mentioned previously, although this is occurring in Gigafactory 2, it is not necessarily all Tesla’s doing. Panasonic, Tesla’s partner in the solar panel business, was actually the one responsible for the production of solar cells and solar panels as a whole. Now that they are ending their partnership with Tesla, things will change.
Rumor has it that Hanwha might be the next partner for Tesla. However, two things are certain. One, the panels and solar cells used by Tesla will change when a new partnership is formed. And two, the solar panels sold and installed by Tesla will come from Gigafactory 2. After all, the production capability of the factory is staggering.
Solar Cells Before and Now
Tesla’s solar panels come from Gigafactory 2, and they have come from there since its opening in 2017, a fact already mentioned. However, not every part of the solar panel came from the factory when it started.
In 2017, Tesla entered into a partnership with Panasonic, and at that time, they imported the solar cells used in Tesla’s solar panels from Japan.
SolarCity only began production of solar cells in 2018, a full year later, under Panasonic. Even then, there are reports that the solar cells produced in Gigafactory 2 by Panasonic did not always go into their products, being sold to other clients instead. So, while the solar panels come from Gigafactory 2, the same might not be true for the solar cells.
Currently, the origin of solar cells is further called into question due to the end of the partnership with Panasonic. While it is likely that Tesla’s next partner will join them at Gigafactory 2 for production, there is no way of knowing what they will create there and whether the solar cells for the solar panels will be produced in-house.
Mounting Might Not Be Produced at the Gigafactory
The solar cells are not the only component of Tesla’s solar panels that might not be created at Gigafactory 2. Although the exact location of the mounting’s production is not clear, there is a decent chance that it is still being produced at the factory of the original company that created it, Zep Solar.
Acquired by SolarCity in 2013, Zep Solar created mounts for solar panels. However, the mounts created by Zep Solar provided a few benefits that are now central to Tesla solar panels as a whole, such as:
- The mounts snap into place, connecting the individual panels together in a neat and orderly fashion.
- The system lacks the railing of other mounting systems, allowing the panels to be placed close to the roof.
The two features of the mounting system allow the panels to be placed in a sleek and stylish manner, avoiding the clunky, unappealing look of many other solar panels. While it is unknown if Tesla still uses the exact mounting system, they did so in 2017 and still retain the same overall style.
Other Components of Tesla Solar Panel Systems
While the exact locations are unknown, Tesla creates a number of other components of their solar power systems between their various factories. Whether it is at one of their Gigafactories or another of their many production facilities, they produce various pieces of the solar panel puzzle.
Tesla’s solar panels require more than just the panels, solar cells, and mounting to be effective. To have a good solar panel system, inverters, gateways, and potentially even batteries are necessary.
While some of the individual components of these systems are not produced by Tesla, the overall products are, just like with the panels themselves. In fact, the Powerwall battery is produced at Gigafactory 1 in Nevada.
Therefore, while tracking down the origin of individual components might be hard, you can trust that Tesla is the final line when it comes to their products. No matter what you get, if it has Tesla’s name on it, you can have some idea where it came from, even if it is a vague one.
Tesla’s solar panels are a complicated mystery. They are a product of Tesla, but they have been created by another company within Gigafactory 2 since its completion in 2017. Moreover, the solar cells and mounting for the panels are both of unknown origin. Yes, Panasonic creates solar cells for Tesla, but they are reportedly not for the panels.
While Tesla does own and likely produce the mounting for their panels, and while the overall production of the solar panels does take place under Gigafactory 2’s roof, the specifics are murky at best. Therefore, while it is accurate to say that Tesla’s solar panels are made in Gigafactory 2, that is only the end product.