Tesla and Panasonic Collaborate on Solar Energy Solution

Tesla and Panasonic collaborate on a solar energy solution at SolarCity's facility in New York.


Global powerhouses Tesla and Panasonic have announced plans to build sleeker, more energy efficient solar roof panels, yet another Tesla product set to transform households into clean-energy users and producers.

Teamed with Tesla’s Powerwall and Powerpack, consumers will host the trifecta of energy storage systems, with the photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules set to convert 22% to 24% of light into energy, compared to current models that hit between 10% to 15% efficiency.

Borrowing the newest innovations in glass tech from Tesla’s automotive projects, the textured glass tiles neatly camouflage the solar cells, enabling the seamless passage of light onto the cells.

The project, however, is dependent upon Tesla Motors’ procurement of SolarCity.

Whilst Elon Musk revealed the manufacturing company had offered to purchase SolarCity for $2.6 billion in August, the project relies on shareholders’ approval of this acquisition.

Following a vote on November 17th, the production of PV cells and modules are intended to begin in 2017.

This relationship between the US electric car manufacturer and the Japanese electronics company, Panasonic, is an expansion of their previous collaboration; producing electric vehicle and grid storage battery cells in Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada.

Essentially, Panasonic aims to operate the Buffalo factory in conjunction with Tesla-SolarCity, in return for Tesla committing to the long-term purchase of the cells created.

Chief Technical Officer and Co-founder of Tesla, JB Straubel, explained that the collaboration will give customers a more efficient and cost-effective solution to solar energy.

“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,” he said.

While there has been no public announcement of cost to the market, Panasonic seemed equally as enthusiastic about the benefits of PV cells and the future of their relationship with Tesla.

Shuuji Okayama, Vice-President of Panasonic’s Eco Solutions Company, stated “Panasonic PV cells and modules boast industry-leading power generation performance, and achieve high quality and reliability. We expect that the collaboration talks will lead to growth of the Tesla and Panasonic relationship.”

Late last month, Tesla unveiled some examples of the rooftop solar panels, with four styles, including textured slate shingle to terra cotta tile, illustrating the potential this partnership has to innovate the solar industry.

With the production of these fully-integrated energy products aimed at a range of audiences, including businesses and home-owners, Tesla’s vision of a sustainable energy future will be one step closer.