SolarCity breaks ground on “GigaFactory” for solar PV in New York state

SolarCity has begun construction of its new manufacturing facilty for PV cells and modules in Buffalo, New York. The factory will occupy 110,000 square meters, and will have the capacity to produce 1 GW of PV modules when fully ramped.

This announcement follows the conclusion of negotiations with the state of New York, which will invest a total of US$750 million to establish infrastructure, help build the facility and purchase equipment. SolarCity plans to spend US$5 billion over the next decade to build and operate the plant.

A statement by the Governor’s Office estimates that the factory will be producing PV modules as early as the first quarter of 2016. SolarCity estimates that the factory will create 1,450 manufacturing jobs.

Modules made at the factory will feature high-efficiency PV cells based on technology by Silevo, which SolarCity purchased earlier in September. Silevo’s Triex cell technology combines amorphous silicon layers and crystalline silicon, as well as a “tunneling” oxide layer, a design borrowed from the semiconductor industry.

This has allowed Silevo’s PV cells to achieve 22.1% efficiency, as verified by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratory. The company unveiled a roadmap to achieve 24% cell effiicency in 2011.