Just last week, Tesla announced battery production had started at their Nevada Gigafactory, but they did not announce one big detail on their January 4th announcement – that the Gigafactory could be powered by the world’s biggest solar rooftop installation. An investor handout showed a 70-megawatt solar array along ground solar panels could make the massive factory operate solely on clean energy.
The 70-megawatt solar array would be 7-times bigger than any rooftop solar installed according to Tesla. The current largest rooftop installation is the 11.5-megawatt installation in India. The United States’ largest rooftop array is a 10-megawatt array at the top of the California Whirlpool distribution center.
It’s highly possible that SolarCity will manufacture the solar panels, as Tesla acquired the solar energy company in November of 2016. Powerpacks will store any excess energy generated by the largest solar installation. Tesla stated that the all-electric factory will be able to operate with greater efficiency and will have zero carbon emissions.
A large part of the heating in the factory would come from the waste heat obtained from production processes. The factory’s closed-loop water supply will use 6 different treatment systems to effectively recirculate about 1.5 million litres of water, which represents an 80% reduction in fresh water usage.
Tesla also stated that they will build a recycling facility at the Gigafactory that will safely reprocess battery cells, modules and packs so that they could recycle usable metals for new battery cells.