Imagine you’re completely hooked on the idea of solar to generate power for your home. When you look at the more than 1.5 Million Aussie roofs, you’ll see slabs of solar panels, usually on a single side of the roof. The problem with that is that at different times of the day, there’s plenty of surface area that’s not being used to collect energy from the sun.
Yesterday Elon Musk was on a Solar City conference call for Q2 financial results, when he gave some info on a brand new product. Musk says they’re working on a Solar Roof, which set their company apart from other providers.
While there wasn’t much detail given, you can imagine SolarCity’s Chairman would take his usual engineering and design flamboyance and apply it to the product.
Tesla Energy recently announced they wanted to acquire SolarCity to create an end-to-end energy company and this could be a critical part of the strategy.
Coating a roof with solar is actually an incredibly difficult prospect when you think through everyday requirements. Roofs aren’t like cars, you don’t get to design them how you like, they have so many requirements that have to be met, like the ability to put holes in them for venting gas, installing air conditioning, TV antennas to name a few.
This problem means SolarCity would need to create a new kind of solar, one that can deal with a hole being drilled through it, in the same way a builder or electrician cuts through tin or opens up tiles.
The benefits are clear in terms of the additional surface area being able to collect more power, more hours of the day, but of course, the enemy is cost, so this solar roof technology, not only needs to keep the rain out, keep your house charged up, but also not cost a million dollars.
Right now, most households spend between $5 and $15,000 to install solar on their roof for between 8 and 20 photovoltaic panels, largely limited by cost and return on investment.
“I think this is really a fundamental part of achieving differentiated product strategy, where you have a beautiful roof. It’s not a thing on the roof. It is the roof.”
If Musk can indeed reinvent the rooftop, it’s surely won’t be long until we see those solar-enabled glass surfaces like windows and doors be turned into even more solar collectors.
Personally I look forward to the day where we can use technology how we want, without thinking about the cost, because the house is being powered by the sun, not the rising costs of the energy grid.
More information at electrek.