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Tesla uses a secret Project Titan program to replace the bad parts of the solar panel



  • Last summer, Tesla launched Titan Project, an effort to quietly replace defective solar panels across the country, according to documents reviewed by Business Insider.
  • In particular, Tesla replaces connectors and optimizers, parts that are designed to regulate the amount of energy supplied to the solar panel. Too much energy can cause a fire.
  • Earlier this week, Walmart filed a lawsuit against Tesla, claiming the energy company had neglected to operate more than 240 stores that had Tesla solar panels on their roofs. Fires broke out on seven sunny roofs at Walmart.
  • Walmart says in its complaint that Tesla has never provided sufficient analysis of the "root cause" of why these fires occurred. The existence of Project Titan answers some of these questions.
  • In a statement to Business Insider, Tesla confirmed that they were replacing certain parts of their solar panels, calling it "a removal effort to limit any impact that the connector may have [H-4]".
  • To be clear, this problem affected Tesla's solar panels, not its Solar Roof shingles product.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

In the summer of 201

8, Tesla launches a large-scale venture – stealing the replacement of solar panels across the country. Her name was Project Titan, she learned Business Insider.

The defective parts in question are connectors – Amphenol H4 connectors – and SolarEdge optimizers. These parts are assumed to regulate the flow of energy and heat to the solar panel, ensuring that as much energy as possible passes through the part without overheating. Overheating can result in fire.

"Some of the installed SolarCity modules and optimizers from different manufacturers were made with H4 connectors from Amphenol, a part commonly used in the industry at the time," a Tesla spokesman told Business Insider.

The spokesman went on to say that Tesla's software monitoring applications detect "a small number" of connectors that experience failures and interruptions higher than their permitted standards.

Amphenol and SolarEdge did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

"In the past year, less than 1% of sites with this connector exhibited abnormal behavior," a Tesla spokesman said.

"Tesla is fulfilling its commitments to our customers who expect their solar installations to generate reliably clean, cheap energy for their 10-20 year contract. This campaign to replace all the defective connectors on these Tesla sites is fulfilling that commitment . "

Business Insider learned that these affected parts were" quarantined "as part of the Titan Project and were either reworked and rebuilt or scrapped. A document viewed by Business Insider puts the number of quarantined parts in warehouses and distribution centers at more than 120,000 by September 2018. A Tesla spokesman said that number was incorrect [19659009] In his statement, Tesla described the Titan project as "an effort to eliminate the limitation of any impact that the connector may have had, although we are not familiar with the manufacturer or regulator of the equipment that has identified any significant hazard" [19659009] Enter Walmart. The retailer filed a lawsuit against Tesla this week. He was a customer of SolarCity (which Tesla purchased in 2016) since 2010. In a Walmart complaint, Tesla failed to operate and maintain solar panels on hundreds of Walmart roofs nationwide in accordance with their agreement, which predicts that Tesla still owned all the solar panels on Walmarts roofs.

Walmart claims in its lawsuit that Tesla's negligence led to seven rooftop fires in Ohio from California to California. As a result, Walmart informed Tesla of its intention to "vent" its roofs – shut down Tesla's systems – on May 31, 2018.

In a lawsuit, Walmart claims that Tesla had installed defective connectors, but Tesla failed to provide. Walmart with the "root cause" of all these problems to this day. He provided analysis for only one site in Beavercreek, Ohio.

Decontamination did not stop Tesla's systems from igniting the fire, Walmart states in its complaint:

In November 2018, Walmart discovered that another fire had occurred at a Walmart store in Yuba City, California, even though that the solar panels in that store had been depleted since June 2018. The conductors on the store's roof were still sparking by the time Walmart opened fire and could ignite wider flames, with potentially damaging effects.

Equally disturbing, after Tesla technicians visited the roof, one technician failed to close the lid to the combine box, exposing this important equipment to the elements, thus creating a fire hazard. Even more worryingly, Walmart later learned (regardless of Tesla) that a potentially dangerous ground fault had occurred on the Yuba City site in the summer of 2018. Tesla either ignored the signal or intentionally failed to detect it at Walmart. The problems that triggered this ground fault signal may have caused or contributed to the subsequent fire in the fall of 2018, revealing the complete incompetence or recklessness of Tesla or both.

A former Tesla employee who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of repression stated that life at Tesla was chaotic and more chaotic during Project Titan.

"That's the way it all goes, we fix things until it's out," said the former employee, who left earlier this year. "There is planning ahead, there are too many fires to be extinguished. Punk is planning."

If you have any information about Project Titan or how Tesla tried to remedy its solar problems, please email me at llopez@businessinsider.com.

Local news showed a fire at Beavercreek Walmart in March 2018
WHIO

March 7, 2018 saw a Tesla owner fire and a managed solar panel roof at Walmart in Beavercreek Ohio. The blaze was so bad that the store was closed for eight days, according to the complaint.

In April 2018, Tesla was still figuring out what to do in this situation. According to internal documents, dated around April 24, the company is still considering replacing the 100 solar panel modules that were damaged on the roof. The rooftop solar panel model was out of stock in Tesla, so employees were in a hurry to find a compatible model.

The model identification number for Walmart rooftop solar panels is PV-10119-255 and will later end up quarantined during Project Titan, according to internal documents.

To execute Project Titan, Tesla orders deliveries, including ladders and tool belts, and sends crews from the United States, according to a source. Spare parts had to be ordered as all H-4 connectors had to be replaced with MC4 connectors.

It didn't happen all at once. Standard operating procedures had to be established, crews had to be assembled according to the source. In December 2018, 188 Tesla trucks were shipped to nearly 50 cities in the US to modify damaged connectors and optimizers in support of Project Titan, according to Tesla documents reviewed by Business Insider. Tesla declined to comment.

Even Walmart was still in the mix at this point, the documents show. In January, Tesla was still in a hurry to make Project Titan repairs to at least one Walmart site before it could be inspected.

As early as April 2019, Tesla was still refining the procedures of the Titan project. For example, according to an internal document from early April, Tesla commissioned all repair teams to use repaired parts as the first choice to replace damaged optimizers and connectors by the end of the month.

Tesla stated that this is a factory-upgraded optimizer that has a different connector from the Amphenol H4 connector and that the part complies with safety standards.

By the day Walmart brought his case, Tesla had checked only 29 of Tesla's more than 240 solar roofs, according to a Walmart complaint. Those reports suffer from missing documents, according to Walmart. The sites were complicated to verify because Tesla lacked accurate parts drawings, solar panels came from different manufacturers and had components that were incorrectly labeled, according to the complaint. Over half of the sites inspected had defective connectors – not the MC4 connectors that the Titan project was supposed to install, according to the complaint.

Tesla told Business Insider that it believed Project Titan was successful in solving problems with the H4 connector and its higher failure rate.

But a former Tesla employee said they were not sure if Tesla was able to find and replace any defective optimizers and connectors nationwide.

"We don't have a specialized department to do these things," they said. "Everything goes one way – make the product, sell the product, install the product … No support. The customer just needs to monitor those in their mobile applications and call us if they have a problem."

On Thursday night, Walmart and Tesla released a joint statement on the lawsuit: "Walmart and Tesla look forward to reviewing all issues and re-energizing Tesla's solar installations at Walmart stores, after all parties are certain that all problems have been addressed. "

" We look forward to pursuing our common goal of a sustainable energy future, "the statement continues. "Above all, both companies want every system to work reliably, efficiently and safely."

If you have any information about Project Titan or how Tesla tried to remedy its solar problems, please email me at llopez@businessinsider.com.


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