Panasonic might produce PV modules for SolarCity at new plant

PanasonicPanasonic Corp. is making bigger and bigger moves in the solar industry. The company already had a relationship with Tesla Motors as a battery partner, but will now is in discussions to manufacture its PV cells and modules at the big new SolarCity facility planned for Buffalo, N.Y., pending the Tesla/SolarCity merger becoming official, of course. Panasonic is already pushing out a nice solar installer training program with its own branded high efficiency modules, and working with SolarCity could obviously really ramp up its penetration in the U.S.

Details from Panasonic: On Oct. 17, 2016, Panasonic has signed a non-binding letter of intent with Tesla to discuss about possible collaboration on the production of PV cells and modules for the North American market at a factory in Buffalo, New York, under the umbrella of Tesla.

Panasonic will look at a collaboration that utilizes the strengths of both companies, creating a synergy between Panasonic’s technological and manufacturing expertise in PV cells and modules and Tesla’s strong sales capacity.
Panasonic produces and sells its HIT PV modules with unique silicon heterojunction structure composed of crystalline silicon substrate and amorphous silicon layers. With industry-leading conversion efficiency and excellent temperature coefficient characteristics, Panasonic’s HIT achieves high power generation even in a limited space.

Panasonic is one of the few vertically integrated PV manufacturers in the world, with in-house production of ingots, cells and modules to inverters, providing high-quality products.

This Buffalo plant is being built with assistance from New York, and is going to be the largest producer of photovoltaic panels in North America. SolarCity delayed the opening of this plant when questions started to pop up about its future. The speculation now is this deal with Panasonic could be the extra financial boost the company needs to get this going. From Forbes:

SolarCity, under pressure to secure additional funds prior, earlier this year delayed the opening of the Buffalo plant, pushing it back to about the second quarter of 2017, according to the Buffalo News. That’s raised concerns among both New York state officials and investors about the fate of the facility.

“Panasonic’s support could mitigate, in our view, some of the capex required to launch the Buffalo facility,” Brian Johnson, an equity analyst for Barclays who has an “underweight” rating on Tesla shares, said in a research note today.

— Solar Builder magazine

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