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Power Hardware Technology

Tesla's New York Gigafactory Kicks Off Solar Roof Production (bloomberg.com) 103

In an email Tuesday, Tesla said that its manufacturing of the long-awaited electricity-producing shingles began last month at a factory in Buffalo built with backing from New York State. It comes more than a year after Tesla unveiled the shingles to a mix of fanfare and skepticism. Bloomberg reports: The appeal: a sleek, clean solar product, especially for homeowners seeking to replace aging roofs. The tiles -- from most angles -- look like ordinary shingles. They allow light to pass from above and onto a standard flat solar cell. Tesla, the biggest U.S. installer of rooftop-solar systems, piloted the product on the homes of several employees. The company expects to begin installing roofs for customers within the next few months.

Tesla started production of solar cells and panels about four months ago at its Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo. New York committed $750 million to help build the 1.2 million-square-foot factory, which currently employs about 500 people. The plant will eventually create nearly 3,000 jobs in Western New York and nearly 5,000 statewide, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in 2015.

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Tesla's New York Gigafactory Kicks Off Solar Roof Production

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  • About time. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2018 @09:09PM (#55897511) Journal
    Musk has so many things going on. Amazing that he can track these.
    Still, if he gets these off the ground and they have figured out the snow loads on them, we will be ordering these the next time that our roof is destroyed by hail (it will be the 3rd time).
    These roofs are supposed to be more hail proof than concrete or slate tile, which hold up against all the hail on the front range (golf ball to baseball size).
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Amazing that he can track these.

      I read his autobiography, have been a close follower of his career, and have studied his methods for both engineering and leadership. I think his secret boils down to none of his schemes actually work, so there's nothing to track.

      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2018 @11:13PM (#55897971)

        I read his autobiography

        I started to read an article about Musk by his ex-wife, Justine. In the first paragraph she said that if you ever want to be like Elon, you need to understand that "he would never waste time reading an article like this."

        So I stopped reading, and watched random video clips on Facebook instead.

      • by pezpunk ( 205653 )

        that's an odd statement. as a Tesla owner, it is far and away the most amazing and easy to drive car i've ever owned. And I'm not just talking about acceleration. Anyone that rides with me is similarly jaw-droppingly impressed by a random half-dozen features, and they get out saying "why don't ALL cars do this...?" about various features.

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      In Norway, they have special systems that use a small 12V electric current running through underground wires in order to heat pavements slightly. That's enough to make the snow melt. With solar panels, a similar system could be used to make sure the snow doesn't block out the light.

  • smart money (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jodka ( 520060 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2018 @10:01PM (#55897737)

    You can choose between two investments:

    Option 1: You pay $100.00 and you receive one share of the company. If the value of the company increases or decreases, the value of your own share increases or decreases proportionally. If the company fails, your stock will be worth nothing and you will have lost $100.00. If the company falls in value, your share could be worth $25.00 and you would have lost $75.00. If the company grows, you can re-sell your stock at higher price than you paid and keep the difference, less capital gains taxes. You could earn $0.01, $1.00, $10,000.00, or more. Additionally, should you chose, you can can purchase whatever products the company manufactures.

    Option 2: You pay $100.00 and you receive nothing. If the value of the company increases or decreases, then you will still have nothing. If the company fails, you will have nothing. If the company falls in value, you will have nothing. If the company grows, you will have nothing. Additionally, should you chose, you can can purchase whatever products the company manufactures.

    Only an idiot would voluntarily choose Option 2, which is is why that choice is taken only when a politician holds a gun to people's heads and demands it.

    Economists call that socializing the risk and privatizing the profits, but in common parlance it's called a ripoff. It's important to keep in mind here that the issue is not whether or not a solar panel factory should be built and whether the government should compel funding, instead it is who keeps the profits taxpayers are compelled to invest, those taxpayers footing the bill or Elon Musk and Tesla stockholders. The government could, instead, either not fund Tesla or coercively fund Tesla and vest the tax payers. So don't dare say "But we need solar power to save the planet from global warming." That is a separate issue from who keeps the profits and a smokescreen for stealing from the public.

    There is not a shred of evidence that reducing the burden of government through targeted gifts to favored mega-corporations is any better than uniformly lowering tax rates for all payers. The former is inherently unjust; All men are created equal, except for those who own mega-corporations? Don't dare say "But business is good for the economy." That is a separate issue from who keeps the profits and a smokescreen for stealing from the public.

    The Republican Foxxconn deal in Wisconsin is a taxpayer swindle just like this Democrat Tesla deal in New York.

    Finally, I would not beat on Elon Musk and Tesla for this. Companies rationally seek capital at the lowest rate, it's not their fault if the lowest rate is obtained from some crooked politician giving away my tax dollars. The remedy is for the public, both Democrats and Republicans, to stop voting for crooks.

       

    • Re:smart money (Score:5, Interesting)

      by youngone ( 975102 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2018 @10:10PM (#55897765)
      Unfortunately it's not just Republicans and Democrats doing this.

      Hollywood found this trick 25 years ago, and extorted the Gold Coast in Australia, Toronto in Canada, and New Zealand (that I know of) with the "All those nice jobs will have to go overseas unless we get some subsidies" trick.

      The Lord of the Rings movies cost my neighbours and I $50 million for instance.

      They're all arseholes.

      • by spitzak ( 4019 )

        Vancouver more than Toronto, actually.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by thegarbz ( 1787294 )

        The Lord of the Rings movies cost my neighbours and I $50 million for instance.

        And combined with a pittance of advertising from the tourism office the increase in tourism has injected several times that back into the New Zealand economy. But sure, focus only on the "cost" to the taxpayer without looking at what investment you bought.

        Sure not everything works out as well as LOTR did for NZ but using that as an example of something bad is incredibly daft.

        • Care to quantify exactly how much tourism is directly because of Lord of the Rings?

          Thought not.
          It's no different to the bullshit written about the "benefits" to NZ of the America's Cup which will cost taxpayers $100 million or more, with "returns" calculated by the beneficiaries and reported without any real analysis.

          These things are just subsidies by taxpayers to big business.

          • Thought not.

            No because the estimates are varied but almost universally positive. Google it yourself.

      • by RobinH ( 124750 )
        I don't think you're counting the tourism increase to New Zealand. My wife and I were mostly unaware of New Zealand as a big tourist destination before the movies (all I knew about New Zealand was it's the land "where the men are men and sheep are nervous"). Now we're specifically making sure to go there and my wife wanted to do the LOTR tour as she's a big fan of the books/movies. The movies showed off the scenery - $50 million for advertising was probably easily worth it.
        • Except it wasn't $50 million for advertising. It was $50 million subsidy to Warner Bros.

          The production company also demanded (and received) specific labour law exemptions preventing their staff from taking industrial action, and preventing them from being allowed to collectively bargain.

    • You missed out the bit where the employees get paid, and pay taxes.

      $750,000,000 investment. so far 500 new jobs. Let's assume they're average New York State jobs, $67,000 per year. That's 33 million per year in income tax. $1.7M back to the state in income tax alone per year.

      Not the best returns, but I doubt those 500 workers are being paid the average wage, probably higher. It gets 10x better when the number of jobs goes up to 5000.
      There's also tax savings to be had by having lower unemployment rates. More

      • Re:smart money (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Arkh89 ( 2870391 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2018 @11:18PM (#55897989)

        Sure but let's look at some values here : 750M for 8000 jobs (3K+5K) over say 10 years (at 0%) that's a requirement of 9.3K/person/year in state taxes to recover. Just from income, that would require each person to be paid over 150K/year (with about 100K income after taxes).
        If we include sales taxes at about 9% and we assume that each person spends half of his/her after-tax income, we get to down to a requirement of 101K/year salary per person.
        There are certainly other indirect sources (you mentioned some) to consider to get to the complete picture here, but still... it seems far-fetched...

        • You're assuming the factory is worthless after 10 years.
          You forgot to take off the cost of welfare for 8000 people.

          The state retains ownership of the factory and equiptment. SolarCity is paying 5 billion to use it for the next 10 years.

        • by Jodka ( 520060 )

          Sure but let's look at some values here....

          That is irrelevant. Whatever the salary and tax revenue figures, they are the same regardless of whether the tax payers are vested or whether, instead, they are forced to give away money to Tesla without receiving a share of ownership in return.

        • Amazingly enough some people are able to count higher than 10.

          Amortize that factory out over 20 or 25 years.

          Don't forget to account for corporate taxes paid @ ~6.5%

          And that is not counting the social and economic benefits of having many people employed in stable jobs, spending money to support local businesses, having families, buying houses, etc.

          There is also the added bonus of indirect job creation. That factory will require power and water and garbage collection, all of which they will need to pay for.

      • That is the dumbest argument I have ever heard: paying people money so you can get some of it back in taxes. Why not just give people money directly? It would "save" money.
        • by inking ( 2869053 )
          We have been doing this since civilization became a thing. The government always builds infrastructure to attract companies and receive tax revenue.
        • It's not an argument, it's reality.

          Why do people who work for the state pay state income tax? That's the dumbest thing ever. Paying someone money so you can get some back in taxes.

      • by Jodka ( 520060 )

        You missed out the bit where the employees get paid, and pay taxes.

        With one option, the taxpayers pay for part of the factory but not then own and profit from what they pay for. With the other option, the taxpayers pay for part of the factory and do own and profit from what they pay for. With both options, employees get paid and pay taxes. So which is the better option for taxpayers?

        By making that comparison, you can recognize that corporate welfare has no social benefit and that it is only a giveaway to the wealthy and politically well connected.

        • In this case the taxpayers pay for and own the factory and equipment. The company will be spending $5B over the next 10 years to use it.
          The factory also has capacity for other companies to use it too.

          FYI: The state retains ownership of the factory and equipment. It's in TFA

          New York State will invest a total of $750 million through the Buffalo Billion and other state resources to establish infrastructure, construct 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, in which rather than giving money directly to private companies, the State invests in core infrastructure and equipment and uses that equipment as the incentive to attract companies to establish themselves in these new high-tech facilities.

          The model is basically "we'll invest the upfront capital and build a factory if you promise to use it for at least 10 years"

    • by Jodka ( 520060 )

      Sorry, this:

      It's important to keep in mind here that the issue is not whether or not a solar panel factory should be built and whether the government should compel funding, instead it is who keeps the profits taxpayers are compelled to invest, those taxpayers footing the bill or Elon Musk and Tesla stockholders.

      Should be changed to this:

      It's important to keep in mind here that the issue is not whether or not a solar panel factory should be built and whether the government should compel funding, instead it i

    • I don't know what everyone's complaining about, America was built in government support for business. States are regularly played against each other to attract businesses via subsidy, it's a not a new phenomenon, it's why America is so successful. Europe has laws against 'state aid', member states are not allowed to attract businesses like this, which is why Europe's economy isn't as successful.

  • We should give a subsidy to powerplants to help them store enough fuel to make electricity for six months. Any fuel, absolutely no discrimination. But it should keep the plant going for six months to handle unforeseen emergencies.
  • Dave Jones' (EEVblog) analysis : https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] (bonus points if you read the subject in his voice, let's hear your favorite dave quotes/one liners)
  • the price of the tiles comes down quickly. I would love to do my entire roof so I can replace my gas furnace and water heater with heat pump units. My winter heating bill is my highest bill.
    • by ahodgson ( 74077 )

      $20-30k worth of roof pays for a lot of gas. Spend $5k on better windows and insulation and invest the rest. Especially if you don't have net metering in your jurisdiction.

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner

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