A note from Axiom Capital is saying Tesla is in talks with Swiss photovoltaics firm Meyer Burger to develop solar cell technology that could drive manufacturing costs down by nearly 50 percent.
Axiom Capital Research’s Gordon Johnson wrote that during his industry checks he heard that there may have been a meeting between company executives about Tesla purchasing Meyer Burger’s heterojunction (HJT) solar cells.
“Though few details were disclosed, what we gleaned via our interaction with mgmt. is that, on an industrialized scale, Meyer Burger’s HJT-cells are ‘very competitive’ in the mkt and ‘significantly cheaper’ than Panasonic’s existing fab,” according to the note published by Barron’s. “Further, while the company neither confirmed nor denied the alleged meeting between MBTN’s & TSLA’s CEOs, mgmt. did exclaim, of anyone looking for HJT mfg. equipment, MBTN will ‘speak to all of them,’ & Panasonic/Tesla ‘is also such a potential.’”
Tesla in conjunction with long-time partner Panasonic is currently manufacturing high-efficiency photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules at Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, NY. Production of the PV cells began earlier this year for use in non-solar roof products, though the California-based company has indicated that pilot production of the Tesla Solar Roof tile has already begun from its Fremont factory.
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With Tesla’s new solar tile roll out expected in the coming months, a Tesla-acquisition of Meyer Burger could shift manufacturing and production processes currently established with partner Panasonic.
As the company continues to expand operations and prepares for a production ramp-up at Gigafactory 2 in New York, a revised partnership may add another wrinkle into Tesla’s ever-changing production logistics. Nonetheless, it would be a wrinkle that adds efficiency to a process that could drive solar costs down for homeowners.
And let us not forget about logistics associated with Tesla’s Model Y compact SUV, which Musk expects will eclipse Model 3 production levels.
The solar tiles have sold out well into 2018, and the rumors of a new partnership serves as an example that, while no one knows Elon Musk’s intricate plans, the overall goal is still aimed at providing affordable sustainable energy.