Giga New York

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Giga New York
Large white sign, with red letters spelling "TESLA", in the parking lot of a long, low building.
Sign at factory entrance
Giga New York is located in New York
Giga New York
Location of Giga New York
BuiltSeptember 2014
OperatedAugust 2017
LocationBuffalo, Erie County, New York, U.S.
Coordinates42°51′32″N 78°50′24″W / 42.859°N 78.840°W / 42.859; -78.840Coordinates: 42°51′32″N 78°50′24″W / 42.859°N 78.840°W / 42.859; -78.840
IndustryEnergy generation and storage
ProductsPhotovoltaic cells, Solar panels, Solar shingles
Employees1,500[1]
Address1339 South Park Ave, Buffalo, NY 14220
Owner(s)State of New York

Tesla Giga New York (or Gigafactory 2)[2] is a photovoltaic (PV) cell factory leased by Tesla subsidiary SolarCity in Riverbend, Buffalo, New York. The factory, owned by the State of New York, was built on brownfield land remediated from a former steel mill. Construction of the factory, rebranded as RiverBend, started in 2014 and was completed in 2016–17.

In 2013, the site of Giga New York was planned as a clean energy business incubation center. As SolarCity acquired Silevo in 2014 and merged into Tesla two years later, the factory was planned. The factory, in a partnership with Panasonic, started limited assembly of photovoltaic modules in 2017 using imported Japanese PV cells. It began commercial production of modules in 2017. In 2018, SolarCity began production of individual solar cells.[3] In late 2019[4] or early 2020 Tesla began commercial installation of version 3 of its "Solar Roof" product manufactured at the factory.[5]

Panasonic stopped manufacturing solar panels at the factory in 2020.[6] The same year, Tesla began producing charging equipment for its Supercharger network at the factory,[1] and its solar deployments grew to 205 megawatts of generating capacity.[7] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, employment at the factory decreased in the first half of 2020,[5] but by the end of 2021, the number of employees at the factory had increased to more than 1,460, as Tesla had promised New York State.[8]

Early history

The large Republic Steel mill that occupied the site before Tesla
Gigafactory under construction in 2015

Background

Republic Steel and Donner Hanna Coke operated a steel mill along the Buffalo River on the 88-acre[9] Riverbend, South Buffalo site from early in the 20th century to its closing in 1984.[10] As a response to the regional manufacturing downturn related to deindustrialization in the Rust Belt, the State of New York created an economic stimulus package, later dubbed the "Buffalo Billion", providing $1 billion in unearmarked economic investments for the Buffalo area.[11][12] In 2013, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Hub at Riverbend, targeting the Republic Steel site, then a brownfield, for the development of a clean energy business incubation center that was to be funded with $225 million from the Buffalo Billion fund.[13] At the time, the two companies announced as tenants were lighting manufacturer SORAA and solar panel manufacturer Silevo, which promised 475 jobs.[14][15] Development of the site would be managed by the SUNY Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, now SUNY Polytechnic Institute.[13]

In 2014, SolarCity detailed plans to acquire Silevo for $200 million,[16] subsequently scaling up plans for the Buffalo gigafactory. The company outlined a construction timetable and hiring goals promising an eventual 3,000 jobs in Buffalo with 5,000 statewide, and $5 billion in economic activity. The new plans abandoned the research center design in favor of the construction of a 1.2 million square foot factory. As a result, the state increased the incentives offered to $750 million.[17]

Construction and opening

Ground broke in September 2014. The facility was completed in late 2016 and was furnished with equipment through 2017. As of August 2017, production of solar panels had begun at the factory.[18]

Rationale

Before Tesla and Panasonic began their partnership in Buffalo, Panasonic already had 30 years of experience producing solar panels.[19] Because SolarCity incorporated the manufacturing process that Silevo had intended to use for production, the partnership allowed Tesla to outsource production and reduce its reliance on debt.[20] The technology used incorporates nanotechnology, an emerging sector in upstate New York that colleges and universities such as SUNY Poly and Erie Community College have developed programs and research in,[21] with the latter offering semiconductor and nanotechnology programs specifically for employment at the gigafactory.[22] The facility also takes advantage of tax incentives and leasable space from the State of New York. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also suggested that the company's solar panels could be helpful in humanitarian crises, such as rebuilding the electric grid of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.[23]

In 2015, SolarCity's CEO, Lyndon Rive, a cousin of Elon Musk, stated that the new facility would be key to creating a clean energy-manufacturing market, adding that expansion would not be possible at the Riverbend plant, but more likely in the immediate area.[24] While SolarCity operated a pilot production and R&D facility in Fremont, California,[25] the Gigafactory provides capacity for 10,000 solar panels per day, equivalent to one gigawatt per year.[26]

Operations

The factory began production of solar cells in 2017,[27] and assembly of photovoltaic modules for solar panels, under Panasonic.[3] In January 2018, Tesla announced, after testing on employees' roofs, that it would begin installing its new product on commercial customers' homes "within the next few months".[28] Tesla delayed mass-production of the Solar Roof because of its focus on the ramp up of the Tesla Model 3 and development of a third version of the Solar Roof; in October 2019, it announced that version 3 of the Solar Roof was ready to begin production and ramp up installations over the next several months.[4]

By early 2020 Tesla began commercial installation of version 3 of the Solar Roof product.[5] Tesla has also begun producing charging equipment for its Supercharger network at the factory.[1] In its results for the second and third quarters of 2020, Tesla reported that its solar energy operations were continuing to ramp up, partly because the company reduced the price of its standard solar products below the US industry average as part of a renewed marketing push,[29] and partly as it gained more experience in installing the Solar Roof, hired more solar installers, and also sought growth through third-party installers.[30] After delays in solar deployments due partly to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tesla's 2020 solar deployments grew by 17% in 2020 to 205 megawatts of generating capacity, including 86 megawatts during the fourth quarter, up 59% from the 4th quarter of 2019.[7]

Jobs commitment

In 2018, Tesla committed to providing 1,460 jobs at the factory by April 2020.[31] By early 2020, employment at Giga New York had increased to 1,834, including 376 Panasonic employees who left the factory when Panasonic ceased manufacturing solar panels there later in 2020.[6] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, employment at the factory decreased to 474 as of April 30, 2020, and the company requested and received another year (until 2021) to meet its hiring commitment.[5] The company received another extension until the end of 2021 to reach the employment target at the plant. If it had failed to meet that deadline, the state could have imposed a $41 million fine.[32] By the end of 2021, the number of employees at the factory had increased to more than 1,460, meeting the commitment.[8]

Criticism and lawsuit

The project has faced criticism and legal actions regarding allegations of inflated job promises, cost overruns, construction delays, bid rigging, a perceived lack of effort from Musk, and claims that the deal was, in effect, a bailout of Musk's cousins Peter and Lyndon Rive.[33] In April 2022, a Delaware trial court dismissed the lawsuit by Tesla shareholders, holding that Musk did not impermissibly interfere in the acquisition even though he "was more involved in the process than a conflicted fiduciary should be", and that since the acquisition "Tesla’s value has massively increased".[34]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Hanley, Steve. "Tesla Now Has 1,800 Employees In New York, Panasonic Quits Gigafactory 2 In Buffalo (The Solar One)" Archived March 19, 2020, at the Wayback Machine, cleantechnica.com, February 28, 2020
  2. ^ Musk, Elon [@elonmusk] (January 25, 2020). "Going with nomenclature of Giga [most widely understood location name] vs Giga #, so Giga Shanghai, Giga Nevada, Giga New York & Giga Berlin" (Tweet). Retrieved January 26, 2020 – via Twitter.
  3. ^ a b Robinson, David (August 31, 2017). "6 things to watch as Panasonic gears up to start production". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on September 3, 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Kolodny, Lora. "Tesla releases a new version of Solar Roof tiles, aiming to revitalize its clean energy business" Archived November 14, 2019, at the Wayback Machine, CNBC, October 25 2019
  5. ^ a b c d Robinson, David. "Analysis: Tesla's solar slump is proof of the pandemic's destructive power" Archived July 24, 2020, at the Wayback Machine, Buffalo News, July 23, 2020
  6. ^ a b O'Kane, Sean. "Panasonic to resume work at Tesla’s New York solar factory this week" Archived June 15, 2020, at the Wayback Machine, The Verge, May 19, 2020
  7. ^ a b Robinson, David. "Tesla's solar energy business is bouncing back" Archived February 4, 2021, at the Wayback Machine, Buffalo News, January 28, 2021
  8. ^ a b Crider, Johnna. "Tesla Reaches Job Target for Buffalo Gigafactory, Avoids $41.2 Million Penalty", CleanTechnica, December 29, 2021
  9. ^ "RiverBend". buffalobillion.ny.gov. Archived from the original on July 25, 2019. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  10. ^ Sisson, Patrick (April 1, 2016). "A Gigafactory Is Rising in Buffalo, And It May Change the Solar Energy Industry". Curbed. Archived from the original on September 4, 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  11. ^ "Cuomo upbeat about NY's future (with text, highlights of speech; video of Saland)". The Daily Freeman. Archived from the original on September 4, 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  12. ^ "Governor Cuomo Outlines Plan to Continue Building a New New York by Growing the Economy, Reinventing State Government, and Advancing New York as a Progressive Leader". Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. September 28, 2014. Archived from the original on September 4, 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  13. ^ a b Staff (November 21, 2013). "Cuomo's clean-energy plan gives Buffalo the seeds for a new economy". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on September 4, 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  14. ^ WBFO Newsroom. "Buffalo's RiverBend to be site of two new clean-energy research companies". WBFO. Archived from the original on September 4, 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  15. ^ Staff (November 21, 2013). "Profiles of high-tech hub companies Soraa, Silevo". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on September 4, 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  16. ^ Cardwell, Diane (June 17, 2014). "SolarCity Is Acquiring a Start-Up, Silevo, to Build Panels". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on September 4, 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  17. ^ Staff, News 4 Digital (September 23, 2014). "SolarCity investing $5B in Buffalo, creating 3,000 jobs". wivb.com. Archived from the original on October 4, 2014. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  18. ^ Ayre, James (September 7, 2017). "Solar Roof Tile Production At Tesla's Buffalo "Gigafactory" Now Up & Running". CleanTechnica. Archived from the original on January 12, 2021. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  19. ^ Robinson, David (October 18, 2016). "Why Tesla wants to team up with Panasonic in Buffalo". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on September 4, 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  20. ^ "Making the World's Best Solar Panel Won't Be Easy for Tesla". NASDAQ.com. November 6, 2016. Archived from the original on September 4, 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  21. ^ CNBC.com, Bob Woods, special to (July 19, 2016). "SolarCity gigafactory brightens New York's manufacturing revival". CNBC. Archived from the original on September 4, 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  22. ^ Smallwood, Brittni; Reporter, News 4 (July 6, 2015). "ECC creating new courses to capitalize on SolarCity's development". wivb.com. Archived from the original on September 4, 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  23. ^ Becker, Maki (October 6, 2017). "Elon Musk to Puerto Rico: My Tesla solar panels can help you". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on June 24, 2018. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  24. ^ CNBC.com, Tim Mullaney, special to (June 11, 2015). "Elon Musk's biggest challenge yet: Recharging Buffalo, NY". CNBC. Archived from the original on September 4, 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  25. ^ SolarCity leases former Solyndra facility to house Silevo panel division
  26. ^ Martin, Richard. "10 Breakthrough Technologies 2016: SolarCity's Gigafactory". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  27. ^ Durbin | AP, Dee-Ann (August 31, 2017). "Tesla starts production of solar cells in Buffalo". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on September 2, 2017. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  28. ^ Eckhouse, Brian (January 9, 2018). "Tesla's New York Gigafactory Kicks Off Solar Roof Production". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on June 24, 2018. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  29. ^ Ferris, Dacia J. "Tesla Energy ramps hiring at Giga New York for accelerated solar production" Archived September 27, 2020, at the Wayback Machine, Teslarati, September 9, 2020
  30. ^ Epstein, Jonathan D. "Tesla's solar business shines as roof installations grow" Archived October 31, 2020, at the Wayback Machine, Buffalo News, October 23, 2020
  31. ^ Whalen, Ryan (May 29, 2020). "Tesla Says Success Temporarily Tanked by Coronavirus in New Jobs Report". spectrumlocalnews.com. Archived from the original on September 10, 2020. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
  32. ^ Ryan, Patrick. "Tesla receives more time to meet jobs benchmark" Archived April 29, 2021, at the Wayback Machine, WIVB.com, April 29, 2021
  33. ^
  34. ^ Kolodny, Lora and Jessica Bursztynsky. ["Elon Musk wins shareholder lawsuit over Tesla’s $2.6 billion SolarCity acquisition", CNBC, April 27, 2022

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