Follow Us

Tesla to build world’s largest rooftop solar installation

Its factory’s roof will eventually have 70,000 solar panels, Tesla officials told commissioners, calling it a “solar milestone” among many firsts at the factory and for the electric vehicle industry as a whole.

Published: December 8, 2023 6:03pm

(The Center Square) -

Tesla plans to build the largest rooftop solar installation in the world at its Gigafactory in Austin, Texas.

At a recent Travis County Commissioners Court meeting in Austin, Logan Grant, Tesla senior manager of factory engineering, said, “We finished phase 1, so we can pull roughly 10 megawatts. When it’s all said and done, it will be 30 megawatts, which will be the largest rooftop solar I think in the world,” the Austin Monitor reported.

Tesla's 10-million-square-foot factory first opened last April. It spans 2,500 acres along the Colorado River and is a manufacturing hub for Model Y and the Cybertruck, Tesla states.

Its founder and billionaire Elon Musk relocated Tesla’s headquarters from California after fighting with California officials over lockdown policies, an anti-business culture, and the California legislature continuing to increase taxes.

In December 2021, when announcing plans to build Gigafactory in Austin, Musk said Giga Texas was a $10 billion-plus investment over time and would generate at least 20,000 direct and 100,000 indirect jobs.

Its factory’s roof will eventually have 70,000 solar panels, Tesla officials told commissioners, calling it a “solar milestone” among many firsts at the factory and for the electric vehicle industry as a whole.

“The first American battery manufacturing at scale is happening here and the first American cathode manufacturing – which is the most expensive part of the battery – is happening at Giga Texas,” Rohan Patel, Tesla’s senior global director of public policy and business development, told commissioners, according to the Austin Monitor.

The announcement comes after Tesla broke ground in May to build the first battery-grade lithium hydroxide refining facility in Robstown, outside of Corpus Christi. It is the first facility of its kind to be built in North America. It’s expected to bring over 400 new jobs to the region.

Gov. Greg Abbott, who first welcomed Musk to Texas after relocating to Austin, said, “Texas is proud to be the home of Tesla.” At the lithium facility groundbreaking, he said, "Texas will continue to be a hub of innovation, leading the way on the future of technology.” The lithium refined there “will work its way into Tesla batteries all over the world,” he said.

In 2016, Tesla also acquired California-based SolarCity for $2.6 billion. The residential and commercial solar provider’s EV chargers first hit the market over a decade ago. “SolarCity’s solar roof technology allowed homeowners to install solar shingles that appear no different from a conventional roof, yet generate electricity the same way as solar panels. This idea evolved into Tesla’s current Solar Roof tiles,” EcoWatch reports.

On Nov. 29, Tesla launched its cybertruck at Giga Texas. Musk described the truck as the “most unique thing on the road,” which includes bulletproof windows. “If you have an argument with another car, you will win,” he said.

There are between “1 million and 2 million people waiting for their Cybertruck,” Teslarati reports, with Tesla currently offering $1,000 discounts for reservation holders who purchase or lease a Cybertruck by Dec. 31.

The Cybertruck tows more weight than the strongest pickup truck and is faster than a Porsche, according information and video demonstrations Musk posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. Musk purchased Twitter last year for $44 billion and last December expanded its operations in Texas.

The Cybertruck’s basic rear-wheel drive model, which won't be available until 2025, sells for $60,699. Its all-wheel drive model, featuring 600 horsepower and a 340-mile battery range from one full charge, sells for $79,990. It’s 845 horsepower model, with a full battery charge mileage range of 320 miles, sells for $99,990.

Musk’s operations continue to expand through his multiple businesses located in Texas. His geotechnical engineering infrastructure company, the Boring Company, is headquartered in Pflugerville, roughly 18 miles south of Austin. His private foundation is also headquartered in Austin as of 2020, and SpaceX and his neurotechnology company, Neuralink, also have offices in Austin.

SpaceX’s rocket launch operations are headquartered in Boca Chica, south of Brownsville. In April 2021, Musk began publicly advertising and asking future employees to come work for him and to move to Austin and Brownsville.

The Facts Inside Our Reporter's Notebook