Tesla-Sanctioned Gigafactory Flyover – 4K Video


This video was filmed with direct permission from Tesla Motors. Arrangements were made directly with Elon Musk and Tesla Security. Permission has also been given for me to upload it to my page. BE SURE TO CHANGE SETTINGS TO 4k!!

States the video description.

Note that footage was captured back in April, but video was just recently uploaded.

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66 Comments on "Tesla-Sanctioned Gigafactory Flyover – 4K Video"

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That looks tremendous. To see that kind of blue shine and also dwell in the sun light. I bloody love solar panels!

what solar panels?

if you look at the image above, you will see that a roof is being attached to the factory structure. that roof is made of solar panels. the gigafactory is being designed to not only be a netzero factory, but to generate 20% more energy than is needed to power the factory. i assume that part of the deal worked out with the state of nevada is that Tesla will be operating on the grid using net metering such that they will get money for sending energy into the grid.

While there will be solar on the roof eventually those are just metal sheets, no solar PV yet.

right, thank you.

Uh . . . I’m going to agree with the others and point out that those are NOT solar panels.

If they do eventually cover it with solar PV, it will generate a LOT of power. That is a huge area and a good place for sun. Of course the factory will consume a lot of power too.

But I doubt solar panels are installed any time in the next few years. Too many other things to spend capital on (the building, the battery making equipment, salaries, Model 3 design, more superchargers, etc.)

its not just solar panels that are planned but they are also going to install towers for wind power generation. the plan, as i understand it, is to generate 20% more power per year than is needed to meet the expected power needs of the plant. my assumption is that Tesla will get a sweet deal on payments for the power that they send into the grid.

what a dreadful place.

There is a beauty to the Basin and Ranges east of the Sierras

Props to Tesla, the only company in the world that can create hype around an effing factory building. πŸ™‚

LOL, Apple is pretty good at it too with their space ship building.

Obviously you’ve never visited Hershey’s Chocolate World.

Are you saying the “giga” factory will be a tourist attraction? πŸ™‚

Not exactly, altho many factories do give public tours.

I found it rather bizarre that Hershey has set up an amusement park style ride to present a sanitized / fantasy version of how it produces a chocolate bar, in lieu of letting people tour their factory. Seriously… singing animatronic cows?!?! :-/

I think this will be what the Gigafactory looks like in the end.

I want my Golden Ticket.

Great idea for a factory tour! At the end of the tour, everyone gets a pack of batteries to put in their tooth brushes, toys and remote controls.

Great reply, Edward Niedermeyer.

What exactly are you Seeing Through, anyway?

Cool ! Have a question. In Summer it is very hot there? I mean than whole factory must be cooled, and battery packs perhaps also when Transported.

i think the better question is: is this factory going to be limited to lithium-ion battery production? what happens if new battery technologies become viable?

asked and answered, it’s been stated several times that the factory can make packs of any chemistry. No limitations.

A factory building is obviously just a big box that can be stuffed with any type of battery-making equipment. If technology switches to a much better battery type then they probably will have to get rid of a lot of battery-making equipment but the building remains useful.

Perhaps this explains why Panasonic is much more cautious than Tesla on this Gigafactory. Panasonic are the ones taking the big risk here.

the “e” in “p,p&e” is equipment. i’ve got to suspect that a large part of the $5 billion dollars going into that plant is equipment. my question was how much of that equipment would have to get scrapped if there was a change in battery technology. the answer put forth by doug suggested that the equipment could be re-purposed for any battery technology. your answer suggests that a fair amount of the equipment would have to be scrapped.

your answer fit more to my intuition than does the answer from doug. my sense is that an equipment swapout is not only going to involve scrapping the existing equipment, but buying new equipment. that to me sounds like additional billions of dollars – which could be a big deal if the swapout has to occur before they recoup the sunk costs associated with the plant configuration currently being built.

Well, it really depends on the technology change. Perhaps a slightly different chemistry mix would be used and that could have very little or even no effect on battery technology.

Or perhaps the technology change would be big to something like Lithium-air or solid state batteries . . . and that might involve a BIG change in equipment.

But I suspect that there will be little to no technology breakthrough that will be big enough to massively change the current plans.

battery technology is not a mature technology, but tesla has gone all in behind lithium ion technology. i really hope the whole gigafactory thing works out; it’s a very bold move on musk’s part, but it seems like a very big risk.

Speculawyer said:

“Well, it really depends on the technology change. Perhaps a slightly different chemistry mix would be used and that could have very little or even no effect on battery technology.

“Or perhaps the technology change would be big to something like Lithium-air or solid state batteries . . . and that might involve a BIG change in equipment.”

Precisely. In the short term, we know that battery makers will continue to tweak the chemistry, and obviously the Gigafactory will be set up to allow for that, since Panasonic already has experience in such tweaking.

Long term, there’s no way of knowing where the future of batteries is going to go. But at worst, if a radical new tech becomes the standard, Tesla will still be the leader in EV technology. At least for the near future, Tesla will continue to be in the best position to take advantage of any new battery tech.

If a radical new battery tech does become the standard, Tesla will be in no worse position than the other high production battery makers. They’ll all have to revamp their factories.

“no comment” said:

“i think the better question is: is this factory going to be limited to lithium-ion battery production?”

Production of li-ion cells and battery packs, yes.

“what happens if new battery technologies become viable?”

The same thing that will happen to every other factory building li-ion batteries. It will have to be converted to use the new tech.

Note this has already happened with the conversion from NiMH to lithium ion, and at least in some factories in switching from lithium ion to lithium polymer. (Lithium polymer is a type of li-ion battery tech, but such cells have a different interior physical construction.) It’s not like you have to throw away all the production machinery and start over again, as the Tesla bashers want us to believe.

Wikipedia says there are an average of 52.3 days with highs of 90 Β°F (32 Β°C)

Okay a few things
1, wow absolutely no vegetation, had the structures not been there , it would have been difficult to differentiate with a martian landscape.
2, is it really solar panels on top as claimed by first poster? why would they just let it lie down thus decreasing efficiency? why not incline them?

If you tilt them you can’t place them side by side or there will be shadow overlap. You also end up spending more on mounting hardware.

The end result is that it can be simpler and increase power density to just put more panels in the same space by putting them flat on the roof.

It is less efficient per panel but more efficient per dollar.

Doug (dhanson865) said: “If you tilt them you can’t place them side by side or there will be shadow overlap. You also end up spending more on mounting hardware. “The end result is that it can be simpler and increase power density to just put more panels in the same space by putting them flat on the roof. “It is less efficient per panel but more efficient per dollar.” Interesting analysis, thanks Doug! So if I understand what you’re saying, a cost/benefit analysis would show that if you want to maximize solar power from a given area (like a rooftop) it’s better to lay the panels flat on the roof (assuming the roof is actually flat and parallel to the ground), but if you want to maximize power output from a given number of panels, then it’s best to angle them and spread them out so there’s not any shadow overlap during most daylight hours. Now, assuming all that is correct, the question I have is this: At what latitude will it no longer be the case that it’s best to lay them flat to get the most energy from a given area? Would it be above 45 degrees of… Read more »

if you want to maximize solar power production, you would use a dual axis solar tracking system. you would have fewer panels because you would have to space them out to avoid projection of shadows as doug stated. that also involves a lot of additional machinery. tracking systems are the kinds of things that you see in the big solar power farms, but those things can run 5-10 square miles in area.

It won’t matter how far north you go. If you are far enough north you have to worry about snow, so long as you keep the snow off the panels still work even if the angle is wrong.

Play with http://pvwatts.nrel.gov/ to let it do the math.

For example Nome Alaska on a KW nameplate system

0 degree will do about 3000 kwh per year
18.4 degree will do about 3700 kwh per year

neither is sloped enough to keep the deep snow off so it’s a moot point. You’ll have them tilted much more than that if you live anywhere with real snowfall totals.

that was supposed to say 4 KW nameplate

That’s not an optimal tilt. Typically a latitude tilt is used, which for Reno would be 39.5 degrees.

“For example Nome Alaska on a KW nameplate system
0 degree will do about 3000 kwh per year
18.4 degree will do about 3700 kwh per year”

Using PVWatts it says 45 degree in Nome for 4KW would produce 4,200. So would the incentive be to angle it steeply regardless of the snow, rather than because of the snow?

The discussion was about laying it flat on the roof vs tilting to optimal.

The point is at locations that far north the roof won’t be flat but the panels will be, meaning whatever the tilt of the roof is that is the tilt of the panels. No one will add additional tilt if the roof isn’t ideal.

There is no incentive to change the tilt because it’s too expensive to rack it any way other than flat to the roof.

If the roof is 35 and the optimal is 42 it’s cheaper to rack it at the roof tilt than to bother trying for the extra 7.

there isn’t a fixed optimum tilt angle because it varies by season as the position of the sun moves higher and lower in the sky.

sure there is, if you do the math for all the possible fixed angles one will be better than the rest.

fixed optimal angle isn’t as good as adjustable optimal angles but it is still an optimal angle.


I haven’t seen any Mars photos showing anything like the nearby Truckee River

And when Elon tweeted from Mars, it looked pretty desolate.

No solar panels yet. It’s just the steel deck, which has a bluish tint.

The deck needs to be insulated and covered first, then made water tight (yes it can rain there, on occasion), then the panels go on top of that. The panels will be extremely dark compared to the current deck. They will also heat up during the day and thus will not be in contact with the roof but elevated a few inches to a couple of feet from the roof surface.

I would also hope that holes will be cut in the deck to let in sunlight through a solution like Solatube skylights, so the top floor would have natural light during the day. It would be inefficient to convert sunlight to electricity just to power lights inside.

The bluish tint is the reflection of the blue sky.

A relatively flat roof won’t shed snow.

as you can see, it’s a desert landscape, so i don’t think that snow is going to be much of a problem.

as a general rule, you do raise a good point with regard to solar panel installations. i’m considering that myself and the thing that i have been thinking about is that when it snows i will either have to go up on a slippery roof to knock the snow off the panels or i won’t be getting much solar power.

Wikipedia says the verage snowfall per year is 7.0 inches (180 mm). The most snow in one year was 21.0 inches (530 mm) in 2008 and the most snow in one month was 19.6 inches (500 mm) in February 1990.

There will be snow.

the plant will use 3 sources of power: solar pv, solar thermal and wind. the plant will also be on the grid with net metering, and winter is the time when i would expect that the plant would be drawing on energy credits accumulated during the spring and summer. so even if you do get a freak snowstorm that temporarily cuts power generation from the solar pv array, the plant won’t be shut down.

I wasn’t worried about power generation. I was thinking about snow load on the structure. A pitched roof sheds snow.

the issue that you raised is addressed by a structural engineer. regardless of the roof pitch, you design the structure for the appropriate snow load when you submit the design for building permit approval. with the number of steel beams supporting the roof, i don’t think that there would be much deflection under a snow load.

Did you watch the video? It shows similar nearby buildings with the same basically flat roof. I’m sure they’ve considered this issue.

Uh . . . maybe the snow is limited to the nearby mountains? I seriously doubt that low elevation desert floor sees much snow and what snow it gets probably doesn’t last long.

Sparks is at 4,413 ft elevation. I’ve been there. My wife lived in Reno while I lived in Tahoe. There will be snow.

Actually, and surprising to me, the Reno area gets about 22-23 inches of snow per year, a lot more than southern Nevada. Contrariwise, they get only 7 inches of rain annually.

Looks like the Gigafactory will have to be able to depend on 100% grid power as a backup for those days when snow is on the roof and the wind has died down.

Wikipedia says the average snowfall per year is 7.0 inches (180 mm). The most snow in one year was 21.0 inches (530 mm) in 2008 and the most snow in one month was 19.6 inches (500 mm) in February 1990.
There will be snow.

When it snow would it be cost effective to melt the snow? Is it cost effective to use energy to melt the snow, so that solar may be generated?

Roofs are pitched to aid in snow sloughing. If the snow sloughs, it doesn’t need to be melted away.

That’s not the solar roof yet, will be a later drone video πŸ™‚

But I’d like to offer everyone zero net cost VisionSolar.com in the meantime to offset our EVs.

We’re in CA, UT, NV, SC and TX so far, simply email nicklittlejohn@gmail.com

The James Bond-esque music is a hoot. Elon really is like some James Bond villain at this point (the billionaire industrialist) . . . except that he is not a villain (as far as I know).

Where are the railroad tracks? I guess they still need to be laid. And perhaps he can push to have the railroad electrified.

LOL! Electrify the railroad all the way to Fremont, CA? Ummm… not likely, nor does Elon own the railroad.

I found that video a tad long to just have a look at the Gigafactory.

What is going through my mind is how sustainable a place like this can be? They are claiming it will be net zero energy, but I’m sure that doesn’t count water usage or the high energy costs of the workers to commute there (and to a smaller extent, to eat/drink there). And, of course the big one is the initial investment in materials and energy to build the factory (with energy intensive PV on top of that).

I’m a big Tesla fan (and stockholder), but I really don’t buy the net zero energy marketing. It’s better, but it’s not going to be net zero (at least not for many decades – if ever) from a total lifetime energy accounting standpoint.

sorry, the following posting was meant to be a reply to your posting.

Well, we’ll hope that Tesla’s claim the Gigafactory will be entirely powered by solar and wind is a lot closer to actually being true than the previous claim Tesla made that the Supercharger system was gonna be entirely solar powered.

I suspect they really are planning to build out enough solar and wind power to supply the majority of power on an average day, but almost certainly not the four-to-five times as much solar power as they would need on a cloudy day.

More problematic will be power at night. Will Tesla use enough of its own Powerpacks, coupled with enough wind power and extra solar power panels (beyond just plating the roof) to actually provide 100% of the power they will need for a 24 hour cycle? I seriously doubt it. The cost/benefit analysis wouldn’t support it.

the tesla plant will use net metering. what that means is that the tesla plant will be on the grid. wind power could conceivably be generated at any time, but solar power is only generated during the day. the solar panels generate more power than is used by the plant during the day. the excess power goes into the grid. the power utility grants energy credits for the power sent into the grid. at night, some of those energy credits get used as power is drawn from the grid. in general, during the spring and summer, the amount of power drawn at night is less than the amount of power sent into the grid during the day. during the fall and winter the process reverses. net zero is achieved when the net amount of power drawn from the grid is zero over the course of the year.

there are different types of certifications, each with its own set of objectives. net zero is just one such certification.

net zero is just concerned with the energy used within the structure. a net zero building should produce 5% more energy than it uses. the gigafactory is being designed to generate 20% more energy than it is projected to use. the tesla plans do appear to meet the requirements of net zero (i say “appear” because there are other requirements, but the plans do appear to meet the energy usage requirement).

issues like energy usage required for worker to get to the facility and energy and materials used in constructing the build are issues that are addressed in a LEED certification. LEED certification, however, tends to not be so concerned with the energy used by the building in operation.

Thanks for that explanation. It means the net zero has no concern that you start from negative bazillion ( πŸ˜‰ ) energy deficit due to the materials used in the construction phase. Sort of like saying my EV only costs 2 cents a mile to drive, even though it cost me more to buy than a similar gas vehicle and will/may cost a bit to get a new battery pack sometime down the road (even more than the ICE maintenance I’ll have avoided by that time – I guess).

Again, it’s all in the right direction, just a little bit too rose-colored for my tastes.

as i stated, there is no *one* “green” standard; and in the U.S. they tend to not be mandatory. so, whether a person wants to adhere to net zero and/or LEED and/or energy star, it is up to the individual to decide to do so and if you choose to do so, the guidelines are there to help you achieve the goal that you seek to meet. there are, however, no building code that force you to adhere to any of their guidelines, at least not in the U.S. to my knowledge. i do believe, however, that starting in 2020, all new residential construction in california has to meet net zero requirements.

This is only 20% of the final building size.

You can see 4 almost completed sections, and the foundations of a 5th section. In the end the building will consist of 4 times 5 sections. And there are 2 floors for all the building!



The Pentagon has 6.6 million square feet of floor space, compared to the planned 10 million at the GF.