Projected to cost in excess of $5 billion to build and due to produce more lithium-ion cells than any other lithium-ion production facility in the world, construction of Tesla’s massive Gigafactory in Reno, Nevada has been of constant interest to us since ground work started there back in July 2014.
Indeed, thanks to local electric car advocate, energy policy expert and host of the Plug In America Podcast Bob Tregilus, we’ve been furnished with a steady stream of high-resolution photographs showing the Gigafactory slowly take shape from the desert floor at Electric Avenue, McCarran, Nevada — as well as some excellent high-resolution drone videos from various YouTube enthusiasts keen to document one of the biggest privately funded construction projects the U.S. has seen.
These latest photographs, rendered in glorious panoramic high-resolution detail, were taken last week on Bob’s latest visit to the facility, and remind us yet again just how big the Tesla Gigafactory really is. As usual, the images below have been shrunken to fit your browser window, but if you’re interested in viewing the full-size image, simply click on the picture for a higher-resolution version.
Due to reach completion some time next year ahead of full-scale lithium-ion cell production from 2017 onwards, the speed at which the Gigafactory is being constructed is truly amazing. Compare for example, the more recently-filmed 4k drone video from a few months ago with the photographs taken last week.
As those familiar with the Tesla Gigafactory construction process will note, there’s been some increase in ground work at the Gigafactory site alongside continued building erection. That, we presume, is to make way for the expanded Gigafactory layout Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] is rumored to now be preparing in order to keep up with demand for its range of Tesla Energy domestic and commercial energy storage units.
“The photos are from a new location, looking west toward Reno-Sparks,” Bob explains. “Interstate 80 (I-80) is to the right following the green tree line which marks the Truckee River which flows east from Lake Tahoe, through Reno-Sparks to the land-locked Pyramid Lake on the Pyramid Paiute Reservation just south of the town of Gerlach and the Black Rock Desert.”
“The buildings seen in the background are some of the older developments in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center. The biggest building to the upper left of the Gigafactory is the Petco Distribution Center and behind that is Walmart,” he continued.
When the Gigafactory was first announced, Tesla laid out plans for a 1,000-acre facility capable of outputting some 35 Gigawatt-hours of lithium-ion cells and 50 Gigawatt-hours of lithium-ion battery packs per year.
That facility, built by Tesla and equipped by Tesla’s Gigafactory partner Panasonic, was to employ some 6,500 full time staff. But after Tesla unveiled its PowerWall and PowerPack energy products at a special event this spring, Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed that high demand meant that Tesla would likely expand its Gigafactory, even before the original facility was completed.
This was confirmed recently by Dean Haymore from the Story County Commission at a recent presentation about the Tahoe Reno Industrial Centre where the gigafactory is located in which he claimed Tesla had purchased an additional 1,200 acres of land adjacent to the Gigafactory site in order to expand construction. Assuming the majority of that land would be used to expand the Gigafactory, it follows that the facility’s output would rise to some 100 Gigawatt-hours of lithium-ion battery packs per year.
In order to take photographs of the Gigafactory, Bob tells us that some off-roading was necessary to get the perfect shot.
“Security is tight out there these days and one has to drive a considerable distance off road and then hike several miles to get a view of the Gigafactory,” he wrote in an email to us last week. “I got caught in [a] summer downpour on the way out today after shooting the photos.”
He jokes that it took some time to clean his car off afterwards, but we suspect the trip was well worth it. Thanks to Bob for letting us reprint these fantastic images, and here’s to plenty more.
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