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

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Reddit
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.

This article requires Premium SubscriptionBasic (FREE) Subscription

Unlock unlimited access for 12 whole months of distinctive global analysis

Photovoltaics International is now included.

  • Regular insight and analysis of the industry’s biggest developments
  • In-depth interviews with the industry’s leading figures
  • Unlimited digital access to the PV Tech Power journal catalogue
  • Unlimited digital access to the Photovoltaics International journal catalogue
  • Access to more than 1,000 technical papers
  • Discounts on Solar Media’s portfolio of events, in-person and virtual

Or continue reading this article for free

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 [email protected] or [email protected].

27 June 2024
9am BST
FREE WEBINAR -This special webinar will take a deep dive into the latest PV ModuleTech Bankability Ratings pyramid, capturing the relative bankability status of the top 70-80 PV module suppliers globally. In addition to revealing the latest ranking of global PV module suppliers, PV Tech’s Head of Research, Finlay Colville, will show the depth of analysis and commentary included within the report for module suppliers. A key output from the webinar will be to learn which PV module suppliers have moved up the rankings pyramid in recent years and why this growth has been achieved. Conversely, some of the companies that have fallen down the rankings will be discussed, in particular those suffering from market-share losses and financial problems.
8 October 2024
San Francisco Bay Area, USA
PV Tech has been running an annual PV CellTech Conference since 2016. PV CellTech USA, on 8-9 October 2024 is our second PV CellTech conference dedicated to the U.S. manufacturing sector. The event in 2023 was a sell out success and 2024 will once again gather the key stakeholders from PV manufacturing, equipment/materials, policy-making and strategy, capital equipment investment and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out PV manufacturing in the U.S. out to 2030 and beyond.
26 November 2024
Málaga, Spain
Understanding PV module supply to the European market in 2025. PV ModuleTech Europe 2024 is a two-day conference that tackles these challenges directly, with an agenda that addresses all aspects of module supplier selection; product availability, technology offerings, traceability of supply-chain, factory auditing, module testing and reliability, and company bankability.
11 March 2025
Frankfurt, Germany
The conference will gather the key stakeholders from PV manufacturing, equipment/materials, policy-making and strategy, capital equipment investment and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out PV manufacturing out to 2030 and beyond.
17 June 2025
Napa, USA
PV Tech has been running PV ModuleTech Conferences since 2017. PV ModuleTech USA, on 17-18 June 2025, will be our fourth PV ModulelTech conference dedicated to the U.S. utility scale solar sector. The event will gather the key stakeholders from solar developers, solar asset owners and investors, PV manufacturing, policy-making and and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out the PV module supply channels to the U.S. out to 2026 and beyond.

Read Next

June 21, 2024
UAE state-owned renewable energy developer Masdar has reached an agreement to buy 67% stake in Greece's Terna Energy.
June 21, 2024
NextEra Energy Resources has begun construction of a 310MW solar PV plant in Texas, US, offering power to INEOS Olefins & Polymers USA.
June 21, 2024
LONGi has announced a commercial M6 size wafer-level silicon-perovskite tandem solar cell with 30.1% efficiency at Intersolar Europe 2024.
June 21, 2024
Solar PV is expected to generate 20% of global power across midday peaks on the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, up from 16% in 2023.
Premium
June 21, 2024
PV Tech Premium talks to Nextracker president Howard Wenger about the company's business, expansion plan and R&D spending. 
June 21, 2024
US community solar developer Summit Ridge Energy and PV manufacturer Qcells have extended their module supply partnership.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
July 2, 2024
Athens, Greece
Solar Media Events
July 9, 2024
Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Singapore
Solar Media Events
September 24, 2024
Warsaw, Poland
Solar Media Events
September 24, 2024
Singapore, Asia