Tapping solar vast potential is one of our best bets to become carbon neutral by 2040. As prices keep on dropping, one of the remaining problems is the look of the panels themselves.
Tesla may change all this with its recent announcement of solar panels that look like traditional tiles and shingles. As Bloomberg reported:
(…) It wasn’t until about a minute into the speech that Musk casually let the crowd in on Tesla’s big secret. “The interesting thing is that the houses you see around you are all solar houses,” Musk said. “Did you notice?”
The answer, in short, was no. Like everyone else, I knew we were there to see Musk’s new “solar roof,” whatever that was supposed to mean. But try as I could as we walked in, I didn’t see anything that looked like it could carry an electric current. If anything, the slate and Spanish clay roofs looked a bit too nice for a television set. This is the future of solar, Musk proclaimed. “You’ll want to call your neighbors over and say ‘check out the sweet roof.’ It’s not a phrase you hear often.”
The roof tiles are actually made of textured glass. From most viewing angles, they look just like ordinary shingles, but they allow light to pass through from above onto a standard flat solar cell. The plan is for Panasonic to produce the solar cells and for Tesla to put together the glass tiles and everything that goes along with them.
If the company revolutioned electric cars and batteries with its previous inventions, it is now closing the loop by providing a high-end, great looking solar photovoltaic product for residential use.
The beauty of these shingles has a price: decrease efficiency. As the overly enthusiastic Cleantechnica reported:
As for efficiency, they’re currently measuring a 2% loss over conventional panels, which is amazing for solar shingles.
Of course, Tesla being Tesla, the price has not been announced yet but one can expect it to be high. But for new houses or for houses needing to reroofed, the price is supposed to be competitive. Plus, the shingles are due to last 50 years as they are made of quartz.
Plus, the company believes that the electricity provided by its solar roof tech will be ultimately cheaper than the one coming from the grid. Perhaps the company is relying on the potential adoption of a global carbon tax in its calculation.
All in all, I believe this is an interesting announcement and I will keep an eye on this technology and how it will fare in terms of efficiency and price as anything that can cut emissions is welcome in world of a weirding and warming climate.