flexiblefullpage -
billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
Currently Reading

Tesla’s Musk eyes solar shingles as next venture

billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
Roofing Technology

Tesla’s Musk eyes solar shingles as next venture

New products will need to overcome problems of aesthetics and efficiency that have plagued past entrants into this field. 


By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | September 1, 2016

CertainTeed's Apollo II solar shingles (pictured) are among the few survivors in a market that's seen its share of failed launches. Undautned, new entrants Solar City and the startup Sunflare are trying to make inroads with new solar roofing.  Image: CertainTeed

Entrepreneur Elon Musk has tried his hand at space travel, producing electric cars, and churning out home and commercial battery packs. His auto-making company, Tesla, this month paid $2.6 billion in cash to purchase Solar City, the struggling photovoltaic panel supplier that’s run by Musk’s cousin Lyndon Rive.

And now Solar City plans to develop stylish solar panels that would take the place of roof tiles on top of residential homes. These tiles would be manufactured at Solar City’s gigafactory in Buffalo, N.Y., using technology from Silevo, which Solar City acquired two years ago.

Ever the optimist, Musk is positioning his solar shingles as a preferable alternative to tiles or asphalt shingles that are typically used to replace roofs on more than five million houses annually. Solar City says it plans to have two solar products ready by the end of this year, one for existing roofs and the other that will be integrated within a roof, according to trendintech.com. Other details, like prices and production schedules, were not disclosed.

Building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) technology is not new. Photovoltaic shingles first came onto the market in 2005. They even merited a mention in Scientific American, which singled out Dow Chemical’s Powerhouse and CertainTeed’s Apollo brands, both of which introduced in 2011, as the leading solar shingles at the time.

CertainTeed’s Apollo II solar shingle is still available. GAF, according to its website, offers a solar roofing system in the six states that provide homeowner tax subsidies for installation. And last spring a Los Angeles startup called Sunflare came out with solar roofing product that dispenses with a glass substrate, and therefore are 65% lighter than solar panels. Sunflare’s product, which will soon be in production, is unique in that it is flexible enough to wrap around curves, can be cut to fit any roofline, and can be taped to an existing roof.

But Dow discontinued its PowerHouse Solar System 2.0 on July 28, and made its last shipments earlier this month. This sector, in fact, is littered with producers—including Applied Solar, Flexcell, Germany’s Soltecture, and even the oil giant BP—whose BIPV products have come and gone.

The problem that solar shingles have yet to overcome is that they generate electricity less efficiently than solar PV arrays. The shingles weren’t very attractive, either.

Tesla watchers point out that if Musk can make the design of ordinary batteries elegant, why not solar panels? And BIPV technology fits into his larger strategy for Tesla to become a fully integrated home energy company that makes solar roofs that capture energy for the house as well as for the home battery storage system that Tesla’s electric cars plug into for power.

Musk has also discussed installing solar roofs on the tops of Tesla’s cars. 

Related Stories

Building Technology | Jan 7, 2020

Tariff whiplash for bifacial solar modules

Bifacial solar systems offer many advantages over traditional systems.

75 Top Products | Dec 16, 2019

101 Top Products for 2019

Building Design+Construction readers and editors select their top building products for the past 12 months in the fourth-annual 101 Top Products report.

75 Top Products | Dec 12, 2019

Top Building Envelope Products for 2019

Sto's beetle-inspired exterior coating and Dörken Systems' UV-resistant vapor-permeable barrier are among the 28 new building envelope products to make Building Design+Construction's 2019 101 Top Products report. 

Building Enclosure Systems | Jul 26, 2017

Balcony and roof railings and the code: Maintain, repair, or replace? [AIA course]

Lacking familiarity with current requirements, some owners or managers complete a roof or balcony rehabilitation, only to learn after the fact that they need to tear noncompliant railings out of their new roof or terrace and install new ones. 

Sponsored | Energy Efficiency | Jul 27, 2016

Metal Roofs Have Solar Advantage

 A large roof can become a resource that saves significant money on energy consumption and helps reduce emissions of CO2 and it turns out metal roofs make excellent hosts for solar panels.

Office Buildings | Jun 10, 2016

Form4 designs curved roofs for project at Stanford Research Park

Fabricated of painted recycled aluminum, the wavy roofs at the Innovation Curve campus will symbolize the R&D process and make four buildings more sustainable.

Sports and Recreational Facilities | Dec 7, 2015

High tech material makes Minnesota Vikings' new stadium's roof light and strong

U.S. Bank Stadium will have an ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) pneumatic roof, a durable, flexible material made of a polymer similar to Teflon.

Sponsored | Roofing Technology | Sep 11, 2015

Solar flash forward

Looking to integrate solar into your building? Here’s what you need to know

| Nov 17, 2014

Resolving practical problems in roofing retrofits and renovations [AIA course]

This course, worth 1.0 AIA HSW learning unit, provides expert advice on how to make a roof last as long as possible, and how to properly retrofit or reroof when the roof has run its course.

| Mar 20, 2014

Fluor defines the future 7D deliverable without losing sight of real results today

A fascinating client story by Fluor SVP Robert Prieto reminds us that sometimes it’s the simplest details that can bring about real results today—and we shouldn’t overlook them, even as we push to change the future state of project facilitation. 

boombox2 -
native1 -

More In Category



75 Top Products

Top Building Envelope Products for 2019

Sto's beetle-inspired exterior coating and Dörken Systems' UV-resistant vapor-permeable barrier are among the 28 new building envelope products to make Building Design+Construction's 2019 101 Top Products report. 


halfpage1 -

Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021

 


Magazine Subscription
Subscribe

Get our Newsletters

Each day, our editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe

Follow BD+C: