Elon Musk has been causing quite a stir the last few weeks, with attention-grabbing news items on venture capital opportunities, space exploration, and self-driving cars. Without a doubt, this entrepreneur is trying to take all of our wildest dreams—some that we didn’t even realize—and bring them to life.
The most recent announcement was cleverly veiled as a presentation about Tesla advancements on climate change. (Bonus points for Musk on selecting Wisteria Lane, site of a hurricane in Desperate Housewives’ season four, as the backdrop.) At first glance, these houses look completely ordinary, although they have diverse aesthetics. Most importantly, their roofs are different; you see slate, clay, and various shingle tones. Despite first glance, these roofs are innovative in their solar power functionality.
While the shingles look picture perfect, these roof tiles are super durable textured glass. The roof tiles are actually made of textured glass that allows sunlight 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. Musk is hopeful that this partnership will foster the development of higher efficiency solar cells that can absorb more sunlight for power conversion. He also claims that it will eventually be cheaper for Americans to have solar powered panels rather than traditional roofs for off-grid electricity daily use.
Musk’s announcement represents the embodiment of Tesla’s dream to become a “sun to vehicle” energy company. If you can soak up solar power through your roof, you can transfer it into a Tesla charging box called the Powerwall 2, which you’ll then use to power up your Tesla car. One really interesting thing to note is that Musk and Tesla aren’t inventing anything incredibly groundbreaking. Solar panels already exist on commercial and residential buildings across the country. Instead, he’s repurposing an existing material, putting a shiny new lacquer layer on top, and pivoting the functionality towards charging your electric Tesla car through the Powerwall 2 box. Musk presented this video to the Tesla board and shareholders as part of his proposal to buy Solar City for $2.2 billion, the nation’s largest rooftop solar installer. This motion passed. This ambitious trifecta of the solar roof panels, the Powerwall 2, and the Tesla Model 3 electric car will be available for purchase across America by the end of 2017.