Tesla is gearing up for production of traditional solar panels at its Gigafactory 2 plant in Riverbend, New York, to begin later this summer.
Tesla Energy’s solar business currently represents a quarter of the nation’s residential rooftop solar market in the United States acquired through the former SolarCity banner. Tesla’s super low-profile solar panels will be the majority of production at the $900 million Buffalo factory. In parallel to the start of production of traditional solar panels in New York, Tesla has announced plans to begin production of its newest Solar Roof tiles at its Fremont factory by the end of June. The company will eventually ramp production of the glass solar roof tile at Gigafactory 2 which is expected to be the dominant product at the facility.
Solar roof tiles cost nearly twice as much as a solar system comprised of traditional solar panels, coming in, on average, at a price range between $30,000-$50,000 compared to $10,000-$20,000 for panel-based rooftop solar system. Despite the seemingly high cost, the Solar Roof tile system still pays out over the long haul and has a net savings over 30 years.
Because rooftops can have a life of 15-50 years, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he expects the ramp up of the solar roof to take time. “It will be very difficult and will take a long time, and there will be some stumbles along the way,” said Musk during the company’s most recent earnings call.
Tesla has shared that it expects solar roof tile production to grow slowly with California as the target for early sales, before expanding to new markets. Once at full production, Gigafactory 2 will be the largest solar panel factory in the Western Hemisphere thanks to the rooftop residential business SolarCity created and the visionary solar roof tile product.
Tesla’s current plans will generate 500 new manufacturing jobs at the facility with another 1,000 sales and administrative jobs created in the area. Tesla and solar cell manufacturing partner Panasonic currently have 14 jobs posted in the Buffalo area which is also expected to increase as the company aims for full production in 2019.
Source: Buffalo News