My Solar Powered Panels Bring All the Boys to the Yard

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.

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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.

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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.

You’ll want to call your neighbors over and say ‘check out the sweet roof.’ It’s not a phrase you hear often.

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.

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Image credits: / 1 / 2 / 3 /

8 comments

  1. polmankevin · ·

    Great post! I am a huge Elon Musk fan (but who isn’t). These roofing tiles are awesome. The concerns with solar panels are their ability to effectively collect energy from the sun, and the bulky shape of the panels that dominate the aesthetics of your home. These tiles seem to solve both of those problems. One of the things that Elon Musk has accomplished that is extremely important is the ability to store solar energy that the panels collect. The Powerwall 2 is such an important step in the conversion to solar energy. It allows consumers to store energy that the panels collect so that households can use it during cloudy days or at night. I would recommend watching the Vice episode ‘The Future of Energy’ on HBO. It is extremely fascinating and Musk makes a lot of great points about solar energy.

  2. Very cool post! I am not sure if the acquisition of Solar City is a good idea, but the concept is magnificent. I think that, even though there is no groundbreaking development in Solar City’s new panels, the esthetical change is important, in a way is crucial. In my opinion one of the key factors of Tesla, being in my pinion its strongest competitive advantage, it is the capacity of designing products that are likable not only in its specification but it can also be a beautiful product that consumers feel attracted to.

  3. jagpalsingh03 · ·

    Great post! I feel like Elon Musk is always 2 steps ahead of everyone else and sometimes his ambition gets the best of him (aka SpaceX) but this this entry to Solar energy seems both feasible and efficient. Like you said, solar panels aren’t anything new but for many neighborhoods around the country, getting solar panels installed can be a hassle. Community officials often believe the awkward and overall ugly design of solar panels can overshadow the preplanned aesthetic of an area, look out of place, and drive neighboring home values down. So, it can be a bureaucratic nightmare dealing with the Home Owners Association. By making panels that not only fit the aesthetic of your neighborhood but also improve the general appeal of your home, Elon Musk has hopefully increased the demand for this reusable energy source. However, at the same time, there has been push back against going solar. Recently, a town in Louisiana introduced a “solar tax” that made solar power more expensive than traditional utilities. If solar becomes more ubiquitous due to Elon Musk and others, I expect more towns to follow with similar legislation. Finding a middle ground between encouraging people to look to alternative energy sources and regulating these sources is likely to be an important issue moving forward.

  4. mashamydear · ·

    Really interesting and informative blog post! It’s nice to hear that Elon Musk is aiming to have solar powered panels be cheaper than traditional roofs, but I think he’s going to need a lot of effort to change perceptions about Tesla’s brand. People definitely associate Tesla with a super expensive, innovative-tech brand, and even though the solar panels may be cheaper, people wouldn’t perceive them to be unless it was communicated properly through marketing and advertising. The synergy the solar panels have with cars is also really smart from a business standpoint, but then again only the very well off can afford to drive Teslas. I would really like to see renewable energy like this become widespread, and wouldn’t be surprised to see a cheaper version of Tesla’s electrical cars come to the market soon.

  5. Wow thanks for sharing this week. I really enjoyed your post and the quality behind it. I took Environmental Ethics last year with Professor Storey and am very intrigued about solar panels and this whole topic about conserving our planet. I did read something recently about this. I like how you made this the topic of your post though, it is different and refreshing from what others talk about. “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”. Your statement about how it will partner up panasonic and tesla, as well as raise effiency is amazing.

  6. magicjohnshin1 · ·

    I had no idea Elon Musk was preparing solar panels! I wonder how one man has the inspiration for such worldly ideas and has the motivation and resources to carry them out. I like how you mentioned that the ideas that Elon Musk’s team pursues aren’t exactly novel, but his team is the only one that possess enough resources and motivation to carry it out. On another note, I wonder how much technology it takes to produce and manufacture these panels, and in turn, how much technology these panels can power. Elon Musk is so forward thinking that I cannot wrap my head around his ideas, but these solar panels are hopefully actually environmentally friendly since their branding pushes this fact daily.

  7. wfbagleyiii · ·

    That’s really incredible! Elon Musk is really becoming a paragon of innovation and this clearly states why. I think it’s starting to solve a problem that people who were on the fence about solar panels have: how will they look? It’s a great reminder that sometimes the path to innovation is much more simple than we think. Great post!

  8. Elon Musk appears to be the king of vertical integration. He has successfully taken on the automotive industry and is not looking to disrupt the utilities as well. The strategy here is fairly straight forward and boils do to your electrically powered Tesla isn’t all that green when the electricity it uses is generated by burning fossil fuels.

    Musk is taking a page from the Apple playbook .When you combine the acquisition of Solar City with last year’s announcement of high-end batteries for your home you have the makings of a closed loop system that is going to start to make getting off of the grid a viable solution for your average home owner.

    Don’t believe me? Check out this article from Tech Crunch that is pretty much coming to a similar conclusion: https://techcrunch.com/2016/10/31/why-teslas-new-solar-roof-tiles-and-home-battery-are-such-a-big-deal/

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