On one million square feet of manufacturing space at Riverbend, 800 workers are now pumping out a unique type of solar roof shingle which end up looking like a standard roof. Using brand new state of the art technology, workers employed by Panasonic create the solar cell, and then Tesla workers assemble it into a sort of glass covered sandwich which looks like a 3 in one roof shingle.
“I’ve always kind of dreamed of working here,” said Alex Finnerty, who grew up in Lockport. “So to watch something like that kind of move its way over to Buffalo, it’s a dream come true. It’s awesome.”
Corey Leone is from Chautauqua County where he used to work a coal burning plant in Dunkirk. Now he’s a facilities maintenance technician at Tesla’s Gigafactory 2. “To be able to come here and do green energy, to go from coal to this, it;s been an amazing journey. I’ve been here almost three years,” said Leone. “It’s been a fantastic ride.”
This facility was built with $750 million dollars in state taxpayer dollars.The company would not allow us to shoot our own video on a tour this week, but Tesla sent WIVB-TV its own video of the inside.This is the only facility in the US to make a solar shingle that looks like a standard roof. Right now these roofs of the future might cost you about five times the cost of a standard roof up front, but with the energy they create, Tesla says they could pay for themselves after about 15 years. Tesla is also working to drop the price of the tiles over time by scaling up production.
It’s possible that a setup that this new Tesla solar roof could actually generate enough electricity to heat a Buffalo home through the winter, but only if you have the right battery backup, and if there are not too many cloudy days. Potential customers can get an cost estimate on a Tesla roof by visiting this site.
“I think the aesthetics of the actual product is kind of mind blowing,” said Finnerty. “You can see it on a roof, but when you see it close up, it’s complex technology that looks wonderful and to be able to make it from start to finish, that kind of blows my mind.”
The factory is slated to create 5,000 clean energy jobs in the state over ten years in line with agreements with the State of New York.