Tesla’s Camouflaged Solar Panel Roof Shingles Could Change Everything

Tesla's Camouflaged Solar Panel Roof Shingles Could Change Everything
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At Tesla’s Universal Studios press conference, CEO Elon Musk took the stage on the suburban set of “Desperate Housewives.” About a minute into his speech, Musk revealed that all of the surrounding houses were solar-powered — which was a surprise, as none of the roofs looked like they had solar cells installed on them, Bloomberg reported.  “This is sort of the integrated future. An electric car, a Powerwall and a solar roof. The key is it needs to be beautiful, affordable and seamlessly integrated,” Musk said at the press event.

Tesla is going to start building and selling solar panels, camouflaged as shingles, to go with its line of battery storage systems, the company announced Friday.

The company’s solar panels are made of textured glass, and look just like any other ordinary roof. The panels work by allowing light to pass through them, to a bottom layer of flat solar cells. They’ll reportedly be more durable than standard shingles, and will come in a number of different versions, including Textured Glass Tile, Slate Glass Tile, Smooth Glass Tile and Tuscan Glass Tile.

But Tesla’s plan is dependent on whether or not shareholders will approve its acquisition of SolarCity — a move that will cost $2.6 billion, and will require both company’s shareholders to vote yes in mid-November.

However, the niche auto manufacturer is banking on the fact that its version of integrated solar technology will be successful, as similar systems have not had much success. This year, Dow Chemical announced that it would discontinue a solar roof shingle that it rolled out around five years ago. But Tesla’s solar roof has a number of upgrades over standard solar cells — and even conventional roofs, Musk argued. They would look far better than similar products, would cost less than a standard roof and aftermarket solar cell setup, and would even be more durable than conventional shingle roofs, Reuters reported.

Still, some have expressed skepticism that Tesla’s plan could work. Jamie Condliffe of the MIT Technology Review called the plan “superficial,” and backed by an “unconvincing narrative.” Wired reported that — beyond some basic details — Musk failed to elaborate about pricing, performance, availability or installation at the press conference.

But despite the criticisms, only time will tell if Musk’s grand plan of integration — where every home has a solar roof, a Powerwall and a Tesla car in the garage — will become reality. If the SolarCity acquisition is approved, Tesla might be able to sell all of those things at a single retail location. If the two companies fail to merge, rolling out this technology on a mass scale would be “unwieldy,” Musk said.

Tesla’s Powerwall 2 was unveiled last week, and installations of the energy storage system should begin in December. There’s no solid word on when Tesla’s solar shingles would be available, but the company said we could except a “slow rollout” in around nine months.

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