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Concerns Over The Validity Of Tesla’s Solar Panel Promises?


Solar panels are catching on in the United States, and the industry is getting a lot of attention from both potential customers and state leaders. Notably, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York helped facilitate the construction of a new Tesla factory specializing in solar panel production in Buffalo. Known as SolarCity, the project used $750 million of the Buffalo Billion economic development initiative, and Tesla pledged to bring thousands of jobs to the Buffalo Niagara area.

The factory is owned by Tesla in partnership with Panasonic, and when it opens later this year it will become the largest solar panel factory in the Western Hemisphere. That’s a major coup for state leaders desperate for more manufacturing jobs.

Many individuals are keeping track of the progress from the factory, especially those that are awaiting the potential economic boost and 1,460 direct jobs that Tesla promised the region. In addition, Tesla also predicted that SolarCity would support the creation of 1,440 more jobs at suppliers and service providers.

Full production at the factory will not be reached until 2019, and workers will be slowly hired over time.

In the meantime, skeptics are waiting to see if Tesla can deliver, as there are doubts over the validity of some bold claims made by Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO.

Musk has claimed that his new solar roofing products will cost “less than a traditional roof,” once the electricity that the solar panels produce is factored in.

But the doubters claim that his math is all wrong, and that “by the best estimates available, the solar roof could still cost upward of $63,000.” That’s more than triple the cost of most traditional solar-panel systems (let alone the average roof installation), and the solar shingles would also generate less electricity per square foot.

On Tesla’s website, the company does make some ambitious promises about its solar roofing product:

Solar Roof complements your home’s architecture while turning sunlight into electricity. With an integrated Powerwall battery, energy collected during the day is stored and made available any time, effectively turning your home into a personal utility. Glass solar tiles are so durable they are warrantied for the lifetime of your house, or infinity, whichever comes first.

A traditional metal roof can have a lifespan of 50 years or more, while the average lifespan of a solar panel only lasts for 20 years before degrading in energy production capabilities.

While many skeptics are waiting for more technical specifications and pricing information from Tesla, others are embracing the solar future.

In an editorial published on June 6 by The Buffalo News, the newspaper wrote, “Tesla’s strategy for developing and selling innovative solar roofs appears to be trending in the right direction, which is good news for Western New York. The fortunes of Tesla, led by forward-thinking CEO Elon Musk, will have a direct effect on the fortunes of many in this region.”