As Tesla gears up to begin production of high-efficiency solar cells and solar roof tiles this summer from its $900 million factory in Buffalo, NY, the California-based company will largely take a back seat to strategic partner Panasonic who will manage production at the facility.
A SolarCity spokesperson said on Tuesday, “Tesla will oversee factory operations in Buffalo, and will manufacture solar roof tiles there,” adding that “Panasonic will manufacture solar cells at the factory, with support from the Silevo team, including cells for the solar roof tiles that will be a hybrid of the Panasonic and Silevo architecture. Panasonic will also manufacture solar panels in Buffalo.” SolarCity acquired solar technology company Silevo in 2014. Tesla would follow suit two years later, acquiring SolarCity in a controversial all-stock deal worth $2.6 billion.
The agreement signed into effect between Tesla and Panasonic in December, solidifies a long-term relationship between the two companies wherein Tesla will be granted adjustable pricing for solar products purchased from Panasonic over the next 10 years.
“In December 2016, Tesla entered into a 10-year arrangement with Panasonic to manufacture custom solar cells and solar panels for the Company, primarily at the Riverbend manufacturing facility. Upon the commencement of production, the Company will purchase up to 1.0 gigawatt of solar panels annually under the arrangement, with adjustable pricing provisions.” reads Tesla’s most recent SEC filing.
Tesla’s glass solar roof tiles introduced in October 2016 will begin production at the 1.2-million-square-foot Riverbend factory, now dubbed “Gigafactory 2”, this summer. According to plans outlined by Tesla in its regulatory filing, the company expects to “begin customer installations of the solar roof later in 2017”.
Panasonic and Tesla will collaborate on engineering and development of photovoltaic products, and next generation solar technology, from Fremont, CA – home to SolarCity’s facility and Tesla’s vehicle manufacturing plant.