Work on Tesla’s rooftop solar system appears to be underway

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Tesla’s ongoing construction of their Texas Gigafactory appears to have reached the stage where solar panels are being installed. According to information posted by one of the many individuals that make a hobby out of flying drones over the active construction site, the three main manufacturers chosen are Longi for solar panels, Unirac for the mechanical racking, and SolarEdge for inverters.

In Joe Tegtmeyer’s ‘Tesla Gigafactory Texas 5 January 2022 Cyber Truck & Model Y Factory Construction Update (08:00AM)’ on Youtube, viewers can see the hardware being deployed. The 20- minute video starts with a discussion on the hardware where Tegtmeyer notes the manufacturers.

At approximately seven minutes and 15 seconds into the video, the drone crests the west edge of the building, bringing the pallets of gear into focus. Then, by about the eight minute mark, the drone heads off to other parts of the structure.

 

The drone operator speculates that the Longi solar panels are Hi-MO5 bifacial products. While the product is a likely candidate for this project, the images and video released did not confirm the panels’ specifications.

The racking hardware specifications, however, were quite clearly Unirack’s RM10 EVO product. This product is a ballasted racking specifically designed for bifacial solar panels. It is angled at 10 degrees and faces south.

The third manufacturer noted is SolarEdge. While there were no drone shots close enough to read the labels, one could assume SolarEdge’s Synergy product line is used here.

Image: Joe Tegtmeyer

When building the first Gigafactory, located in Nevada, Tesla suggested that the factory would have the world’s largest rooftop solar power plant at approximately 70MWdc. In the years since however, that solar power installation was never completed.

It was recently suggested that the first Gigafactory installation will now be sized closer to 22 MW of solar panels. While that wouldn’t break any world records, it could still earn the respectable title of largest rooftop solar power installation in the United States.

At the Texas Gigafactory, the press has so far not attempted to guess the size of the solar rooftop. So, this author did a very rough – and not fully compliant – design in Helioscope to give our readers an idea of the scope of this colossal structure.

Image: Joe Tegtmeyer

The 4.2 million square foot outline could hold approximately 114,000 Longi LR5-HBD-545M solar panels. The total wattage of these solar panels could reach 62MW. If we remove 5% of those panels to meet local fire inspector regulations for walkways, the facility could potentially host as much as 59MW of capacity.

The multi-story manufacturing facility could probably use most of that electricity, but for now, that data is still unknown. It seems reasonable to assume that the facility will contain at least some integrated energy storage as a hedge against Texas’ questionably winterized power grid/natural gas situation, especially considering Tesla’s world leading expertise on the topic.

 

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