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SolarCity Plans World’s Largest Solar Panel Plant in NY

The world’s largest solar panel production plant is going to be built in Buffalo, NY, and will make enough solar panels to produce 1 gigawatt of power within 2 years.

It will be constructed on 88 acres that were previously the site of the Republic Steel plant that New York state purchased from the city of Buffalo.

SolarCity says the production plant is expected to be fully operational next year. The panels it produces will be used in residential and industrial settings.

newsroom-big-140520-press-hpAlong with the City of Palo Alto Utilities, HP has contracted with SolarCity to install, maintain and continue to service 4,000 roof-top solar panels, enough to offset 20% of the facility’s current electricity usage. HP hopes to reduce their emissions by 20% before 2020, as compared to its 2010 baseline. The project is HP’s largest to date, and they estimate to save $1 million in energy expenses over the next two decades.

The Buffalo News reports that the state of New York also plans on investing $255 million into the facilities of solar cell technology company Silevo, and LED light making Soraa, with the aim of employing 475 people. Full production is anticipated in 2015. Silevo has also agreed to spend $750 million in the region.

SolarCity will be building solar cell technology from Silevo, which they have agreed to acquire for $200 million.

“SolarCity has signed an agreement to acquire Silevo, a solar panel technology and manufacturing company whose modules have demonstrated a unique combination of high energy output and low cost.”SolarCity statement about the acquisition of Silevo

Led by Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla Motors, SolarCity has had significant backing in recent years. In 2011 Google invested $280 million to create a fund that helped the solar systems provider finance more residential solar installations across the U.S.

“SolarCity works with a customer to design a solar system for their home. Investors like Google purchase the system up front and, in return, receive a portion of lease payments from the homeowner along with SolarCity,” Google wrote in an announcement about the deal at the time.

Installation_Photo-2Musk wrote that most manufacturers are producing “relatively low photonic efficiency solar cells at uncompelling costs.”

“Without decisive action to lay the groundwork today, the massive volume of affordable, high efficiency panels needed for unsubsidized solar power to outcompete fossil fuel grid power simply will not be there when it is needed,” he stated.

SolarCity have also acquired the racking company Zep Solar for $158 in an effort to control every piece of the business, from manufacturing to balance of systems to installation and financing.

“SolarCity has been heavily focused on cutting costs across the board,” said Shayle Kann, vice president of market research firm Greentech Media Research. “I can’t imagine a company so focused on cutting costs making an acquisition like this if they weren’t convinced it would be cost competitive.”

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