Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) unveiled plans for Panasonic Corp (TYO:6752) to make solar cells and modules from next year at the SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY) factory in Buffalo, New York.
The US company had previously said it might seek an outside partner for solar cells. Panasonic also makes the battery cells for Tesla's electric vehicle and grid storage products, so this type of arrangement is not new for the electric vehicle maker and its Japanese partner.
Tesla’s plan is to use the cells and modules produced in Buffalo in a solar system that will work seamlessly with its energy storage devices -- the Powerwall and Powerpack. Then, it will take advantage of SolarCity’s installation, sales and financing capabilities to bring the solar-plus-storage solution to customers across the residential, commercial and grid-scale segments.
The non-binding letter of intent with Panasonic is contingent upon shareholders' approval of the acquisition of SolarCity.
“We are excited to expand our partnership with Panasonic as we move towards a combined Tesla and SolarCity. By working together on solar, we will be able to accelerate production of high-efficiency, extremely reliable solar cells and modules at the best cost,” said JB Straubel, CTO and co-founder of Tesla.
In 2014 SolarCity announced that it has started building a 1-GW-plus PV panel manufacturing facility in Buffalo. In May the solar company said it expects to start manufacturing solar modules there in the third quarter of 2017, but delays are possible.
In March Panasonic said it had achieved, at the research level, a new world record of 23.8% for the conversion efficiency of a crystalline silicon-based module.
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