June 18, 2014
Solar idea sunny for SUNY
By: Larry Rulison
Source: Times Union
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Tesla cars founder eyes Buffalo for $1B market-shifting sun-panel plant
Musk, the enigmatic founder of the electric car manufacturer Tesla, has
plans to build one of the world's largest solar panel factories in
The plans for the massive factory — which would likely
cost more than $1 billion to build — would further move the U.S. solar
industry's center of gravity toward upstate New York and the SUNY
College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany away from its
current home in Silicon Valley.
Musk is chairman and the largest
individual shareholder of SolarCity, a solar panel installation firm
based in San Mateo, Calif. On Monday, SolarCity agreed to buy another
California solar company, Silevo, for $350 million.
not be a household name in the Capital Region, but back in November Gov.
Andrew Cuomo announced that he had brokered a deal with Silevo to build
a solar panel factory in Buffalo as part of a $1.6 billion high-tech
development project involving the NanoCollege that includes $225 million
in state subsidies.
In regulatory documents filed Tuesday,
SolarCity says its going forward with the previous plans for a factory
in Buffalo, but one that will be much larger than the one planned by
Silevo, which has its only factory now in China.
state documents, Silevo had agreed to build a $750 million factory that
would produce about 200 megawatts of solar panels a year, enough to
power about 50,000 homes.
However, SolarCity says it is in
negotiations with the state to build a 1-gigawatt solar panel factory,
which would make enough panels every year to power 220,000 homes — five
times the output of the original factory. An updated price tag wasn't
To understand just how large a factory this would be,
General Electric Co. was considering building a 400-megawatt solar
factory a few years ago in Colorado that would have been the largest in
the country at the time. GE later abandoned the plan.
global leader in clean energy manufacturing announced potential plans to
build one of the world's largest solar panel production plants at
Buffalo's Riverbend site, where the abandoned Republic Steel Mill is
being transformed..." Cuomo said in a statement issued Tuesday, without
mentioning Musk's company.
SolarCity does not currently make its
own solar cells, so acquiring Silevo is a huge leap into manufacturing
and owning the technology. Silevo's solar cells, which are assembled
into panels or modules, are a hybrid between traditional crystalline
silicon cell and thin-film technologies.
The company is already entrenched in New York with regional operations centers in Albany, Westchester County and Long Island.
which lost $75 million during the first quarter of the year, was
founded in 2006 by brothers Peter and Lyndon Rive, native South Africans
who ran a company called Everdream that was sold to computer giant Dell
in 2007. Musk is their cousin.
In an interview on Tuesday,
Peter Rive said that the previous deal New York had with Silevo was not
the driving factor in the acquisition. But he said he is excited to be
working with the NanoCollege and its CEO, Alain Kaloyeros, and added the
company is in talks with the school and the state to expand their