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Tesla Gigafactory 1 new drone flyover shows latest massive solar array progress

Tesla is currently building the world’s largest rooftop solar array at Gigafactory 1 in Nevada.

Today, we get a rare close look at the factory with a new drone flyover showing the latest progress at the plant.

Tesla has the ambition to eventually power the factory entirely from renewable energy and in January 2017, they announced that they have plans for a giant 70 MW rooftop array, which would be the largest in the world by a wide margin.

The company wrote at the time:

“GF1 is an all-electric factory with no fossil fuels (natural gas or petroleum) directly consumed. We will be using 100% sustainable energy through a combination of a 70 MW solar rooftop array and solar ground installations. The solar rooftop array is ~7x larger than the largest rooftop solar system installed today.”

To be fair, there are much bigger solar farms out there that are installed on the ground, but Tesla is talking about rooftop solar arrays.

If it can indeed deliver a 70 MW solar array on the roof of Gigafactory 1, it would, in fact, become the biggest installation on a rooftop.

Tesla finally started construction in February – about a year after announcing the project, but the company stopped after having installed 6 clusters of solar panels.

Last month, they started expanding the massive solar array and last week, Tesla shared a rare image of the solar array.

Now we get a much better look at the solar system and the whole factory in a drone flyover taken by Electrek’s Seth Weintraub yesterday:

We can see that they are using large commercial solar modules. The company added that they will use around 200,000 solar modules, which means that they are about 350-watt each.

The latest satellites images showed that Tesla installed a dozen clusters of panels, but now we can see that the latest one is much larger than the previous ones and there’s still a long way to go before Tesla can get to 70 MW.

As we previously reported, the current Gigafactory 1 structure has a 1.9 million square-foot footprint. Including several levels, the factory currently is about 4.9 million square feet of operational space. This represents only ~30 percent of the planned completed Gigafactory, according to Tesla.

The building didn’t change a lot on the outside over the past 2 years as Tesla focused on production.

It could change soon as Tesla recently built a new parking lot on the north side of the plant.

This is important because the company’s current parking lot is located on the west side of the factory – where the structure’s expansion is planned and therefore, they need to move the parking lot in order to keep building.

Here we can see that Tesla installed lamp-posts on the lot in preparation for using it as a parking lot and it is already using it to store trailers at the north end:

Originally, the plant was supposed to produce 35 GWh of battery cells and 50 GWh of battery packs. The company later claimed to have found ways to improve efficiency and increase production capacity to 105 GWh of battery cells and 150 GWh of battery packs within the same structure.

Tesla recently claimed to be at 20 GWh of battery production and plans to ramp up to 35 GWh by the end of the year.

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