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Tesla, Panasonic collaborate in Buffalo

A news release posted on the Tesla website Sunday announced a non-binding agreement between Tesla and Panasonic to manufacture photovoltaic cells and modules in Buffalo.

Credit: WGRZ
SolarCity will open a manufacturing facility at this state-owned plant at RiverBend in South Buffalo.

BUFFALO, NY -Tesla Motors and Panasonic, already collaborating on a giant battery plant outside Reno, said Sunday they have signed a deal to produce photovoltaic cells and modules in Buffalo, N.Y.

The announcement comes as Tesla seeks to acquire solar-energy provider SolarCity, which Tesla said would be involved in sales and financing of the cells.

Tesla, maker of electric luxury cars, and Panasonic, the Japanese electronics company which is a big player in batteries, would start making photovoltaic cells in and modules in Buffalo next year, Tesla said. The two firms signed a non-binding letter of intent to make the cells for Tesla's stationary power storage units, the Powerwall and Powerpack.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk envisions a world in which families charge their cars and power their homes from SolarCity photovoltaic panels on their roof during the day. The energy they don't consume right away would go into Powerwall battery systems, making it available to discharge at night.

“We are excited to expand our partnership with Panasonic as we move towards a combined Tesla and SolarCity," said JB Straubel, chief technical Officer and co-founder of Tesla in a statement. "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.”

The deal extends the partnership between the Tesla and Panasonic concerning the battery Gigafactory, the plant outside Reno where 1,000 workers are being on hired. The battery is going to make lithium-ion batteries that are at the heart of Tesla electric cars.

We will have more on what this agreement means for Buffalo and the Riverbend facility throughout the day on WGRZ.