Solar roof houses are all around you. I don’t know if you know that. Let’s see why would you buy anything else Elon Musk unveiled prototypes of. Tesla’s solar roof tiles in October 2016 came in four styles that looked just like normal roofing material, but they were essentially miniaturized versions of traditional solar panels. The roof tiles helped Tesla justify a billion-dollar acquisition of solar city and represented Musk’s vision for what the businesses could do together. It’s been almost two years since then. So where are the tiles?
We now have several hundred homes with solar roofs on them. That is going well. It takes a while to just confirm that Solar is gonna last for thirty years, and all the details work out as it may. This year Reuters reported that they’re actually only 12 tiled roofs connected to the grid all in Northern California. Tesla declined to give an updated figure but later clarified that hundreds of homes refer to roofs that are scheduled for install or are only partially installed. Tesla has been accepting thousand-dollar deposits for the roof tiles since May 2017, but at that point, the company wasn’t even close to mass producing them. It established a factory in Buffalo New York to make the tiles, but it’s not running at full capacity yet. And in the company’s most recent annual shareholder meeting Musk blamed ongoing delays on a need for more testing. There’s only so much accelerated life testing that you do on a roof.
So before we can deploy it to a large number of houses, we need to make sure that all elements of the roof are going to last for at least three decades, ideally sort of half a century. More solar tiles like large solar panels use silicon solar cells to convert sunlight into electricity, but it turns out this tech is difficult to shrink and to manufacture. It’s a little bit like saying the early iPhone screens which were real breakthroughs were just smaller versions of your flat screen on your wall. Making things small actually changes a lot of the way the technology will work, and that’s been a big challenge. I think for Tesla, but certainly for the whole industry, overall to try and miniaturize it in a way that keeps it cost-effective and also gives it the very very reliable performance that Solar is known for.
One of the customers in San Jose pre-ordered as soon as possible, and the roof is installed earlier this year. I was actually stream surprised. Did I get the call just because you never know with this stuff, right? I thought there’d be extreme delays. I just didn’t know. While traditional solar panels can be installed in a day, it took a team of 10 to 15 workers two weeks to install this roof. When asked them why his home was chosen, they said it was kind of proximity to their headquarters. So they could do quick troubleshooting. I think the simplicity of the house helps. You can see my head, my house. That’s a very simple roof layout on it like a complicated roof. So I think that goes into account as well. Tesla’s customers are paying a premium for the tile. Winds roof cost him about $100,000, though he didn’t need to replace his roof anyway. I don’t think it’s whatever paper itself. Honestly, for people that don’t need a new roof, but want to install solar traditional panels, are definitely cheaper.
People have often said to me do we need to find some great new technology to finally make solar work. And I think the answer is no. The solar industry has one in America. We have made solar cost-effective in most of the country, but Wendy is excited to be an early adopter and see his energy bill decrease. Traditionally in the summer, my power bill is around $400 $450 in the summer. My last bill was only 1$ ultimately. Tesla’s goal is to make the tiles a cost-effective option, partly by ensuring they’re more durable than other rooftops. Tesla’s promising 30 years of solar power generation. I would expect these solar roofing tiles in just a few years to be quite reasonably priced if they can get the market’s interest they’re hoping for.
Experts anticipate a wave of new solar installations within the next three to five years not just for homes, but for businesses, for new mini-malls and for all kinds of building infrastructure where we can make solar the go-to product. It’s not just a roofing shingle anymore it’s a power plant on your roof. Tesla says solar roof installations will scale up later this year and into 2019. It’s highly likely that great engineers and incredible technologists and a lot of those people might be at Tesla and are going to be able to take this very difficult challenge and engineer the heck out of it to get us to that cost parity we have not seen yet
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