Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub at RiverBend
The SolarCity GigaFactory will be located at the Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub at RiverBend, a new START-UP NY site owned by the State University of New York’s Polytechnic Institute. It is sited on approximately 88 acres in South Buffalo that was once home to a Republic Steel manufacturing facility.
Since RiverBend was first unveiled in November 2013 by Governor Cuomo, SolarCity purchased Silevo, one of the designated anchor RiverBend tenants, and assumed an agreement with the State to increase more than fivefold the manufacturing capability of the clean energy facility. Silevo is a company that develops and manufactures high-efficiency silicon solar cells and modules.
SolarCity, the nation’s largest rooftop solar power provider, will spend $5 billion over the next decade in connection with the creation and operation of the facility in New York, and New York State will establish infrastructure, construct and own the 1.2 million square foot facility and purchase required equipment. The state investment will replicate the model created in Albany at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, where rather than giving money directly to private companies, the State invests in and owns core infrastructure and equipment and uses that equipment as the incentive to attract companies to establish themselves in these new high-tech facilities.
In August of 2016 Tesla Motors Inc. agreed to a $2.6 billion deal to buy SolarCity and then in December Tesla and Panasonic announced they will team up to build solar panels at RiverBend.
In March 2014, Governor Cuomo announced that Buffalo-based LP Ciminelli was chosen as lead developer for the Hub at RiverBend and on September 23, 2014 Governor Cuomo officially broke ground on the site. Construction of the structural steel frame of the 1.2 million square foot SolarCity GigaFactory began in February 2015.
Currently, the building is fully enclosed as work focuses on the building’s process systems. The hiring process has begun with solar panel production expected to begin in the third quarter of 2017.
In November of 2013, Governor Cuomo announced the Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub at RiverBend. What was initially a $225 million Buffalo Billion investment, the largest single State investment in Western New York, creating an estimated 850 new jobs and leveraging $1.5 billion in private investment, was updated by the Governor on September 23, 2014 with the announcement that the state will invest $500 million ($350 million in capital and $150 million in tax credits) through the Buffalo Billion and $250 million in other state resources, helping to create thousands of jobs in Buffalo and New York State. The facility will be the largest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere with more than 1 gigawatt of annual solar capacity when it reaches full production.