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Tesla, Panasonic team up for solar power

Buffalo will serve as a manufacturing base for joint effort for solar power components.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Panasonic and Tesla announce plans for a new vision of the solar rooftop that will make panels appear as seamless components of the architecture. Pictured, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is seen during a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York on December 14, 2016. Trump hosted a meeting with various technology CEOs including companies like Amazon, Oracle, Alphabet, Apple and others to discuss regulations and establish a working relationship with his administraion. Pool photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/UPI
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Japanese electronics corporation Panasonic and energy storage company Tesla announced plans to start producing solar power components at a factory in New York.
Buffalo, N.Y., will serve as a manufacturing base for the production of solar components that will first service sectors outside Tesla's solar-roof products.
"When production of the solar roof begins, Tesla will also incorporate Panasonic's cells into the many kinds of solar glass tile roofs that Tesla will be manufacturing," a joint statement read.
Under the terms of the arrangement, Panasonic is covering the capital costs for work in Buffalo, while Tesla makes a long-term purchase commitment from the company. Under Elon Musk's leadership, Tesla aims to move beyond the vehicle market to clean energy with its solar-roof product after the November acquisition of solar rooftop panel company SolarCity Corp.
In showcasing the value of the SolarCity deal, Tesla said its mission "has always" been about moving beyond fossil fuels.
"The collaboration extends the established relationship between Tesla and Panasonic, which includes the production of electric vehicle and grid storage battery cells," the joint statement with Panasonic read.
Tesla said the move will create more than 1,400 jobs in Buffalo. Early this year, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown unveiled a new "green code" that updates zoning ordinance aimed at promoting economic development in the city. Already, the mayor said there are more than $5.6 billion in new development activity underway across his city.
Tesla and Panasonic said the first solar modules will roll off the assembly line in Buffalo during the summer. A 1 gigawatt module is planned by 2019.
The cost of installing solar energy in the United States is down more than 50 percent since the start of a federal support program. For homeowners, the technology may still be out of reach. The costs for consumers, however, could go down by up to 60 percent if the industry adopted finance methods that were similar to buying an expensive appliance or installing a new roof, federal studies find.

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