- Electric car manufacturer Tesla will hold the grand opening for its $5 billion Reno, Nevada-based "gigafactory" on July 29, despite the fact the facility was only 14% complete earlier this month, Fortune reports.
- Although the battery manufacturing facility is not yet complete, it is already producing Powerwall and Powerpack batteries.
- Fortune reported that although the factory will not be 100% complete in time for its grand opening, the celebration is in keeping with Tesla's habit of hosting opening events for each completed section of the facility.
Tesla, Construction Dive notes, is under intense pressure to begin producing car batteries on a large scale because its new Model 3 — cheaper than previous offerings from the luxury car maker — has already accumulated more than 400,000 reservations, spurring the manufacturer to raise $1.7 billion to finance the stepped-up activity.
But while car batteries have yet to roll off the lines at the Reno gigafactory in large numbers, the facility is already producing some of Tesla's stationary batteries — the Powerwall and Powerpack products.
Though energy storage technologies were being developed by a number of companies, the May 2015 launch of the Tesla offerings is commonly referred to as the day that "energy storage went mainstream," capturing the attention of power sector stakeholders nationwide.
Since then, companies like Sonnen, Orison and other competitors have released home batteries designed to pair with residential solar systems, like the Powerwall. Utilities have also shown interest in the battery company, with Vermont's Green Mountain Power teaming up with Tesla to offer installation of Powerwalls with no upfront cost through on-bill financing.
As exciting as the residential battery offering has proven, Tesla executives expect the impact of the Powerpack grid-scale battery to be greater on the electricity sector as a whole. Earlier this year, SolarCity announced it will use Tesla batteries to store power for the nation's first fully-dispatchabe utility-scale solar facility in Hawaii, hinting at a future where long-duration batteries are commonly used to store renewable generation for later hours.
The gigafactory has drawn international attention ever since crews began prep work at the site in May 2014. When complete, the factory will cover 5.8 million square feet, while the company has purchased surrounding land to accommodate any future expansion.
Tesla, which is acting as its own contractor, has also made a point of incorporating the latest green technology into the gigafactory. The building will be a net-zero energy building with rooftop and hillside solar arrays, Construction Dive notes.