Tesla’s self-proclaimed “Gigafactory” is well on its way to completion, totaling a footprint of approximately 1.9-million square-feet with around 4.9 million square feet of operational space (~30% of its total footprint). Ground was broken on 26 June 2014 and the factory is already expected to be the largest building in the world upon completion.
Tesla is known for their mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy, and they are certainly making in-roads with unprecedented sales of their renowned electric vehicles as well as a great demand for renewable energy generation and storage. Of course with all these things, there is a common factor: batteries.
Batteries produced within Tesla’s Gigafactory are called “2170 Cell” (in correspondence with the diameter/height or 21mm x 70mm), they are a co-designed project between Tesla and Panasonic. In order to lower production costs of Tesla electric vehicles (EV’s), the cell offers maximum performance metrics whilst maintaining an overall size that is suitable for not only EV’s, but also Tesla Energy products such as the Powerwall and Powerpack.
Commencing in December 2016, the 2170 Cells began mass production on January 4th of this year. Cells that are currently being manufactured will go into use with Tesla’s Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2 energy products, with Model-3 cells getting underway in the year’s second quarter.
The factory is being built in stages to allow finished sections to be utilized for manufacturing while the others are completed, thus improving productivity. It has also been designed with ultimate flexibility in mind; this will allow for production changes are technology and methods evolve in coming decades. The main objective with the Gigafactory is to produce modules, battery cells and other components with the aim of ensuring stable supply, reducing costs and expanding Tesla’s business suitably.
The State of Nevada’s workforce shares a great partnership with Telsa, with 63% of Tesla’s construction workforce and 96% of the employee workforce being made up by Nevadans. This fulfills Teslas commitment to Nevada requirements whereby a minimum of 50% of employees must be Nevada State residents. Through the introduction of cell production in the United States, many thousands of jobs are being created; Tesla and Panasonic will hire several thousand local employees in 2017 alone.
Tesla aims to have the Gigafactory running at full production by 2018, employing 6,500 people with sights to expand to 10,000 employees eventually. In a ripple-effect, the company will also create 20,000 – 30,000 jobs in surrounding areas through supportive economy.
In direct correlation with their hunger for sustainability, the Gigafactory will be completely self-powered; utilizing solar panels across the entire roof of the structure, in combination with Powerpacks to store the residual energy for less sunny days. The emergency backup power feeds in from a number of sources of renewable energy and storage, while there will be no natural gas piped in, no fossil-fuels consumed and no permanent diesel generators. To further the factory’s sustainability, there will be an on-site water-recycling plant and treatment facility, systematically treating water through numerous stages of a closed-loop supply system.
Finally: an on-site recycling facility is also under construction to address the issue of wastage. Modules, packs and battery cells will be reprocessed and reused in new cells or non-toxic waste by-product. By the end of its life cycle, a Tesla battery will eventually return to the Gigafactory where it will be dismantled and recycled to create new packs, thus closing the loop on sustainability.