The Future of Solar Roofing Shingles

Solar Spectacle: Elon Musk’s Solar Shingle Gamble

The plan isn’t resonating with roofing experts, but they’re paying attention.

December 8, 2016


Tesla CEO Elon Musk turned a lot of heads last fall by unveiling his much-anticipated ‘solar shingle.’ And while many in the roofing industry watched, few believe the spectacle of his announcement will cause a true pivot in how advancements in residential solar technology will reach the masses.

Musk’s solar shingle mimics traditional tile roofing, but encased within the translucent glass tiles are solar cells designed to capture the sun’s rays and convert them into enough energy to power the households they cover. His flamboyant announcement — made live from a Hollywood soundstage designed like a typical neighborhood of upscale homes — coincided with the release of Tesla’s latest version of the PowerWall home battery.

He stated his ambition to create a seamless synergy between solar technology that can power both a typical home and Tesla’s electric vehicles already on the market.

As part of his pitch, Musk talked about climate change and the record carbon dioxide levels currently on Earth as the urgency to make solar roofs look better, generate more electricity, last longer and install more cheaply than a traditional asphalt shingle, tile or slate roof.

“We really need to make solar panels as appealing as electric cars have become,” he said, foreshadowing his vision for an integrated-battery lifestyle.

If his team is successful, “Why would you buy anything else?” Musk asked during the presentation.

Looks can be Deceiving

Industry experts agree that Musk raised a good question, and that his focus on integrating renewable energy sources at the household level is essentially the right vision for the future of solar. However, many found the announcement underwhelming — in that it was focused on selling the public on design and aesthetics rather than revolutionary technology and improved solar efficiency.

“Like many ‘latest and greatest’ technological announcements, Tesla’s Solar Roof leaves us with more questions than answers,” wrote Michael Carnahan, general manager of Scalo Solar Solutions in a column for RC’s December 2016 edition.  “Until they release any specifications, we’ll reserve judgement.”

Other industry leaders noted that Musk’s attempt to enter the roofing business via solar technology — though ambitious — has been tried before and met with mixed results.

Late last year, Dow Chemical scrapped production of its Powerhouse solar shingle line after….         Read The Rest at