Tesla/SpaceX chief and sustainable energy champion, Elon Musk, has finalized plans to build a 1.2 million square-foot megafactory in Buffalo, NY through his company SolarCity. The factory targets to create enough solar panels a year to harness a gigawatt of the sun’s energy.
The project, under Musk’s SolarCity firm, is nicknamed the “Gigafactory,” not to be confused with the bigger but still Musk-owned Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada, which is a diamond-shaped $5-billion plant featuring a self-sustaining renewable energy scheme.
The project is part of Musk’s plan to spend $5 billion on the state of New York for developing renewable energy to which the state invested $750 million.
SolarCity is said to be the biggest provider of solar energy in the US. Founded in 2006 and based in San Mateo, California, the company has grown from providing 3,300 megawatts in 2012 to an estimated 4,300 megawatts by the end of this year. SolarCity also introduced solar leasing in 2008. This made solar cells more affordable for homeowners, diminishing the daunting upfront cost of installing solar power.
The new factory in Riverbend, South Buffalo will be the largest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. The project will create over 1,450 direct manufacturing jobs and employ more than 2,000 additional workers in the state to provide the solar services in the next five years. The factory will also create an estimated 1,400 jobs to support the manufacturing and provider sectors in addition to what SolarCity is offering.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo welcomes the project with open arms. In his speech for the launching, he says, “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. This is bigger than anything we could have imagined.”
Lyndon Rive, the CEO of Solar City has also added that if the cost of solar power is below fossil fuel costs without incentives, the market size will become infinite over the next 30-40 years. If solar energy is the future, perhaps New York is bound to come out on top.