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Buffalo: An Unlikely Solar City

Elon Musk has been particularly busy lately.  Or, at least, his companies have.  SolarCity announced June 17, 2014 that it will purchase Silevo, a solar panel manufacturer, just five days after Tesla Motors released its patents for open source use. According to a blog post by senior executives, the acquisition of Silevo by SolarCity will lower costs of solar power to make it an affordable option for all consumers.  “Our intent is to combine what we believe is fundamentally the best photovoltaic technology with massive economies of scale to achieve a breakthrough in the cost of solar power,” it explains.

High manufacturing output at low cost.  This could be a fantastic boost for solar power, and it might just happen in an unlikely place: Buffalo, NY.

The post also states that SolarCity intends to continue talks with New York State to build its manufacturing plant:

We are in discussions with the state of New York to build the initial manufacturing plant, continuing a relationship developed by the Silevo team. At a targeted capacity greater than 1 GW within the next two years, it will be one of the single largest solar panel production plants in the world. This will be followed in subsequent years by one or more significantly larger plants at an order of magnitude greater annual production capacity.

This “initial manufacturing plant” is a facility on the South Buffalo Riverbend planned by Silevo under Governor Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billion” development plan.  The plant will be located at the former home of Republic Steel on Buffalo’s waterfront, if discussions between SolarCity and New York State are successful.

Not only does this plan bring jobs, technology, and development to Buffalo, an area that has struggled economically for decades, but it puts Buffalo in the national spotlight (or sunlight) as a Solar Manufacturing Mecca and not just a Winter Wonderland.

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