Published on October 2nd, 2014 | by Jo Borras
SolarCity Breaks Ground on NY Gigafactory
Last week, SolarCity broke ground on a massive, one-million square foot manufacturing facility on 88 acres of land in RiverBend, NY (outside of Buffalo). Calling its new property a “Gigafactory”, the move will allow SolarCity to control a huge percentage of the home solar PV (photovoltaic) market.
The new Gigafactory is expected to create up to 5000 jobs in the area while directly employing 1450 New Yorkers in a pure manufacturing faculty. The new jobs will help increase tax revenue for the state of New York, while also increasing awareness of solar panel availability and cost savings- something that up to 97% of Americans still underestimate according to a Smart Planet poll.
SolarCity Chairman Elon Musk and the CEO/CTO duo of Lyndon and Peter Rive are hoping that the new Gigafactory will help SolarCity leap into the lead in the same way that a similar strategy has helped Musk’s other company- the electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors- dominate the industry. At the same time, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo is hoping the factory delivers on its promise to bring jobs to a state that still hasn’t quite gotten itself back together after the 2008 financial crisis. You can read Cuomo’s official press release on the matter, below. Enjoy!
Governor Cuomo Announces New SolarCity GigaFactory Complex at RiverBend
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a new, one million-square-foot site for the future SolarCity GigaFactory facility, which will manufacture solar panels at the RiverBend site in South Buffalo. The Governor was in Buffalo today to officially break ground on the project, which will create more than 3,000 jobs in Western New York alone and a total of nearly 5,000 jobs in the state. The SolarCity facility will be the largest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, with more than 1 gigawatt of annual solar capacity when it reaches full production.
“We said four years ago that we have to change the mentality of Buffalo, and every day since we have been working hard to continue this new energy and momentum in Western New York. Less than a year after announcing our original plan, one of the leading solar companies in the world is coming on board and making this the largest advancement for Buffalo’s economy in a generation,” Governor Cuomo said. “This is bigger than anything we could have imagined. It is the perfect metaphor for Buffalo, where the fundamental strength was the available hydropower. That hydropower now, that renewable energy now, will fuel the renewable energy industry for the future. I am incredibly proud that the state is playing a role in this project, because Buffalo’s future is New York’s future, and today that future is brighter than ever.”
The SolarCity GigaFactory will be located at the Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub at RiverBend, a new START-UP NY site owned by the State University of New York’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. Since RiverBend was first unveiled in November 2013 by Governor Cuomo, SolarCity purchased Silevo, one of the designated anchor RiverBend tenants, and assumed an agreement with the State to increase more than fivefold the manufacturing capability of the clean energy facility. Silevo is a company that develops and manufactures high-efficiency silicon solar cells and modules.
SolarCity, the nation’s largest solar power provider, will spend $5 billion over the next decade in connection with the creation and operation of the facility in New York, and New York State will invest a total of $750 million through the Buffalo Billion and other state resources to establish infrastructure, construct the 1.2 million square foot facility and purchase required equipment. The state investment will replicate the model created in Albany at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, in which rather than giving money directly to private companies, the State invests in core infrastructure and equipment and uses that equipment as the incentive to attract companies to establish themselves in these new high-tech facilities. The factory will be online and in high volume manufacturing as early as the first quarter of 2016.
SolarCity’s decision to invest and grow in Western New York comes on the heels of the highest-ever number of jobs in the state, with a count of 7.6 million. In August alone, Buffalo added 4,100 positions out of a statewide total of 137,100. SolarCity will create over 1,450 direct manufacturing jobs at the new facility, and employ more than 2,000 additional workers in the state to provide solar services in the next five years. The facility will create more than 1,400 manufacturing support and service provider jobs in addition to the jobs that SolarCity creates directly.
SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive said, “Governor Cuomo shares our view that the United States can return to its place atop the world in advanced technology manufacturing. Thanks to the Governor’s leadership, we will be able to quintuple the output capacity and economic impact of Silevo’s original commitment. I couldn’t be more excited to partner with the state to make Western New York a global capital for clean energy development.”
Dr. Alain Kaloyeros, Chief Executive Officer and Officer in Charge of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, said, “This is a crowning achievement for Governor Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative and his strategic vision to bolster New York’s burgeoning high-tech economy. Under the Governor’s leadership, the nanotechnology boom that began at CNSE in Albany has now spread clear across the state, creating tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in investments. Partnering with a global powerhouse like SolarCity on such a tremendous scale solidifies New York’s reputation as a world leader in next generation technology development and establishes Buffalo as the epicenter for solar panel manufacturing. As we have seen at our other technology hubs across the state, this will spur significant additional growth and investment. We congratulate Governor Cuomo, SolarCity and the people of Western New York, who are truly the region’s greatest resource. We look forward to building the future together.”
Howard Zemsky, Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair and Larkin Development Group Managing Partner, said, “We have the workforce and the universities that make Buffalo a great place for advanced manufacturing. RiverBend is a definitive sign of Western New York’s transformation and resurgence.”
Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-chair and President of the University at Buffalo Satish K. Tripathi said, “RiverBend brings our region the jobs of the future that will provide a new generation with another great reason to move or stay in the area.”
The project development is led by LP Ciminelli as Construction Management along with: EYP, Project Architect; CHA, Civil Engineer; and M+W Group, Mechanical Engineer.
State Senator Timothy M. Kennedy said, “When Governor Cuomo came to Buffalo last November to announce the Riverbend site, we were ecstatic at the prospect of the 900 jobs promised. But now, with the announcement of 3,000 good-paying jobs coming to Buffalo, more jobs than anyone thought possible, Buffalo’s future is brighter and stronger than ever before. This project teams up one of the most dynamic companies in America, SolarCity, with what is quickly becoming one of the most business-friendly states in the country, New York State. This project would not have happened without Governor Cuomo’s continued support for Western New York in conjunction with his Buffalo Billion initiative. This is a new and exciting day for Buffalo, and I am very proud to support this project.”
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “The excitement accompanying SolarCity’s investment in Erie County, with a $5 billion investment and 3,000 local jobs, builds on the drumbeat of positive news that’s being heard all across our region. Unemployment is down, population is up, and the word is getting out that Erie County is a great place to live, work, and raise a family. After years of difficult circumstances and growing pains, Buffalo is back and ready to do business in the new world economy. Thanks to Governor Cuomo and private partners like SolarCity who are a part of this resurgence, our brightest days are ahead.”
City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, “This is what it’s all about – putting shovels in the ground and people to work right now. This game changing project at the Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Hub at Riverbend will create over 1,000 new jobs, strengthening Buffalo’s economy and continuing the economic transformation taking place in our city. I’m grateful for the partnership with Governor Andrew Cuomo. By working together, we share a vision and commitment to Buffalo, providing the right resources to support critical redevelopment at this remediated site and others that will deliver new opportunities for Buffalo. Today has been a long time coming but now that it has arrived, we have SolarCity coming to Buffalo. What another great moment in Buffalo’s history.”
Source | Images: SolarCity, via GigaOm.