In the same way, SolarCity is planning to open a $750 million manufacturing facility in Buffalo that by the end of 2017 is targeted to begin producing enough high-efficiency solar panels to provide a billion watts (1 gigawatt) of power per year. In 2014, SolarCity bought solar panel maker Silevo, the company behind the photovoltaic technology that will be produced at the Buffalo plant.
Now, the Buffalo plant's opening has been expedited to begin producing the solar roof product and is ahead of schedule, Rive said. The plant will produce solar modules as early as the second quarter of 2017, Rive said.
"We also have been looking at ways to significantly improve manufacturing capacity in Buffalo," Rive said, referring to both better equipment and processes.
Unlike other solar installation companies, which purchase solar panels from third-party manufacturers, SolarCity's in-house production of panels is critical to its business plan to build solar roofs.
"It allows us to control the aesthetics. It's kind of like making a custom car," Musk said. "When someone orders a custom car from Tesla, they'll pick a wide range of options, and that car will be made to their preferences. You really want the [solar] roof made for the customer as a kit and then delivered to get installed."
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