A New Product to Make Solar Power Attractive


Tesla
This rendering shows a house with solar roof tiles.

Tesla, an American automaker and energy storage company, has come up with the perfect solution to popularize solar power: solar roof tiles for homes.

“The goal is…to make solar roofs that look better than a normal roof, generate electricity, last longer, have better insulation, and an installed cost that is less than a normal roof plus the cost of electricity,” explained Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, as he unveiled the new product on October 28, 2016.

The tiles offer an alternative to traditional solar roof panels, which are found by many to be too bulky. Unveiling the product at the Universal Studios set for the television show Desperate Housewives, Musk didn’t hide that the strategy was to make solar power more attractive and popular. “Elon Musk wants to make solar-roof panels as sexy as his electric luxury cars,” commented the Wall Street Journal.

Tesla’s solar tiles come in four different styles: textured glass tile, slate glass tile, Tuscan glass tile, and smooth glass tile. Although they mimic the appearance of an ordinary roof, the solar tiles are made of glass and will have a lifespan of 50 years, according to the company. The tiles are also equipped with defrosting technology. This would work “like the rear defroster on a car, to clear the roof of snow and keep generating energy,” explained Musk.

For now, the tiles produce two percent less energy as compared to traditional solar panels. However, Tesla has announced that they are working on methods to improve this ratio. They also plan to unveil new styles and colors in the near future. Once on the market, the solar tile would be used with Tesla’s home battery product Powerwall 2, which would store any surplus energy for later use.

Tesla’s tiles might be aesthetically more attractive compared to solar panels, but will this be enough? Tesla has not announced a price for the tiles, and explained that installment costs would depend on various factors in every home. However, Musk claimed that it would be cheaper than installing a traditional roof and solar panels. The company expects to make the product available starting next year.