Elon Musk presented 2 days ago a solar tile roof to be produced by SolarCity at Universal Studios Hollywood’s old “Desperate Housewives” set. Although I am very happy with the media attention he is generating for solar and more broadly for sustainable energy and climate change mitigation with Tesla and SolarCity, I am less convinced of the novelty of solar shingles. Solar shingles have been around for a while and are usually more expensive and less efficient in converting sunlight into electricity, thus making the discussion with a potential buyer usually very short. Maybe that’s all about to change after Elon Musk’s marketing. The solar shingles do have one undeniable advantage, and that is that they blend in more with the current roof surface than standard solar panels. Blend in more doesn’t mean you can’t see them, it’s just less clunky than thin-film or standard solar panels attached with a racking system.
Elon Musk has made things sexy in the past. He has done that with the Tesla model S and with battery systems. Outback has been making residential battery systems for many years, but one can’t call them sexy. Now the PowerWall has changed that. Let’s see if SolarCity’s solar shingles will also change the market like the PowerWall and the Tesla model S have done.
As a company we will adapt and offer the more expensive solar shingles to make sure we offer what our clients want. If people want to start paying more for a nicer looking solar panel, we’ll gladly make these products available. We also offer battery systems now that the price of such system has come down a lot.