Tesla’s shuttered solar facility to become COVID-19 ventilator factory

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email
The Gigafactory 2 solar plant in New York will reopen “as soon as humanly possible”, to produce the devices used to mechanically assist those struggling to breathe at hospitals, Musk said. Image credit: Cezary Paweł / Pixabay

The US solar facility Tesla closed down this week due to the COVID-19 outbreak is to get a new lease of life as a factory for ventilators used to treat virus patients, CEO Elon Musk has said.

On Wednesday this week, Musk took to social media to announce Tesla’s Gigafactory 2 solar cell and module plant in Buffalo (New York) will reopen “as soon as humanly possible”, to produce the devices used to mechanically assist those struggling to breathe at hospitals.

Musk’s remarks came in response to a clip of a CNBC interview with Omar Ishrak, CEO of medical device specialist outfit Medtronic. In the interview, Ishrak singled out Tesla as one of the partners Medtronic has enlisted to speed up production of ventilators as COVID-19 spreads through the US.

“Making good progress,” Musk commented in response to the CNBC interview. “We will do whatever is needed to help in these difficult times”.

News of Gigafactory 2’s looming transition from solar panel facility to ventilator factory emerge less than a week after Tesla announced it would close the facility temporarily. The statement suggested the shutdown would not be complete, amid claims production would retained “for those parts and supplies necessary for service, infrastructure and critical supply chains”.

Tesla’s move to shutter Gigafactory 2 – as well as its electric vehicle facility in Fremont, California – followed widespread criticism towards Fremont’s continued operation in the face of ‘shelter in place’ orders issued by local county authorities.

Musk’s Twitter pronouncements at the time added to the controversy. Responding to comments by other social media users, Tesla’s CEO remarked: “My guess is that the panic will cause more harm than the virus, if that hasn’t happened already.”

The COVID-19 row is the latest of a series for Tesla. In the past year alone, the firm has faced a trial – postponed by the pandemic – over its US$2.6 billion acquisition of SolarCity in 2016, court orders not to prevent employees from unionising and a now-abandoned lawsuit over rooftop PV fires.

PV Tech has set up a tracker to map out how the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting solar supply chains worldwide. You can read the latest updates here.

If you have a COVID-19 statement to share or a story on how the pandemic is disrupting a solar business anywhere in the world, do get in touch at jrojo@solarmedia.co.uk or lstoker@solarmedia.co.uk.

Read Next

March 4, 2021
A round-up of the latest solar project news from around the world, including updates from Hanwha Q CELLS and Capital Dynamics.
March 4, 2021
The US will need “hundreds of gigawatts” of carbon-free energy installed within the next four years to meet its climate targets, new Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm has said.
PV Tech Premium
March 2, 2021
With three years of financial and business data available, we can start to analyse a number of possible trends, one of these is the changing landscape surrounding Sunnova's supplier base for PV modules, inverters and energy storage.
March 1, 2021
Xcel Energy has announced plans to double its renewables and battery storage capacity in Colorado by 2030, as the utility progresses with efforts to reach 100% carbon-free electricity generation across its service area by 2050.
February 23, 2021
The development of Denmark’s grid will be driven by rising electricity demands from consumers rather than the growing renewables sector, a panel of key figures in the country’s green energy sector have suggested.
PV Tech Premium
February 18, 2021
Solar assets in Texas have continued to generate despite the weather, but policy remains a hurdle to them aiding the grid

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
March 9, 2021
Solar Media Events
March 17, 2021
Solar Media Events
April 13, 2021
Solar Media Events
April 20, 2021
Get 50% off!
Subscribe before 5th of April 2020!