Hot on the heels of the incredible 400,000-person-strong People’s Climate March last weekend, Elon Musk-backed solar company SolarCity just struck a major deal with New York State to bring a gigantic manufacturing plant to the city of Buffalo. Capable of producing enough PV panels per year to generate a gigawatt of electricity, the forthcoming ‘Gigafactory’ is also expected to create close to 5,000 new clean energy jobs in the region. This news comes just weeks after Tesla broke ground on a $5 billion Gigafactory for lithium-ion batteries in Nevada.
Covering an area of 1.2 million square feet at Riverbend in South Buffalo, the new SolarCity facility will be the largest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. In exchange for SolarCity’s promise to spend $5 billion in New York over the next decade on the creation and operation of the facility, New York State has agreed to invest $750 million into the nation’s largest solar power provider. According to SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive, the partnership is part of a plan to “make Western New York a global capital for clean energy development.”
The Gigafactory is part of Elon Musk’s long-term plan to provide “tens of gigawatts” of PV module capacity per year. The solar manufacturing plant is expected to be up and running as early as the first quarter of 2016. The new facility will provide over 1,450 direct manufacturing jobs, and SolarCity will employ more than 2,000 additional solar service jobs in the next five years.