Last year I first wrote about the revolutionary Solar Roof product by the guys at SolarCity, which is a Tesla company. You can catch up with my initial thoughts on that product here.
Well, the product has been given a little bit of limelight once again. Tesla has just announced a number of Q4 earnings reports. That’s not the exciting bit. The exciting bit is that with the notes they provided, they confirmed that their amazing new Solar Roof is going to be starting production early in the second half of this year.
But why would the UK fenestration industry be linked to an electric car company in any way? Well, I believe that there is a huge potential for our sector. Let me explain why.
What is Tesla’s Solar Roof?
It really does what it says on the tin, or roof, in this case. Tesla’s Solar Roof are individual solar powered tiles that fit and look just like real tiles. The first fenestration connection is that they are made from glass. Check out the various designs:
Amazing no? Under each tile is a small solar panel which harnesses the free power from the free sunlight. The whole roof is fitted and then connected to Tesla’s home battery system. The end result means a roof that provides free energy, stored in a huge home battery that powers the house. Technically, although it’s risky, you won’t need to be connected to the grid for your electricity as the home batteries Tesla makes hold a large amount of juice. If you are connected to the grid, the good news is you would be able to sell any excess back to the grid. So although these won’t be cheap installations, they could start paying for themselves pretty quickly.
That’s some of the technical background covered. Here’s the exciting bit.
Solar roof tech and solid roofs
For me there is a clear and potentially strong synergy between this innovative technology and the rise of solid roofs here in the UK. Take a look at the tile styles above, do they not look like the tiles already being used on some solid roof products already?
I believe that there is an opportunity for our industry’s more forward thinking, higher end solid roof manufacturers to look swiftly at this product and to see if and how the Solar Roof tech can either be worked into our existing solid roof products, or if they can become official suppliers of the product in the UK.
At the moment, if you go on the Solar City website, it isn’t clear whether the products will be available in this country. I know that Tesla’s Powerwall home batteries are indeed available in the UK, so I think we can assume that at some point soon Tesla will open up Solar Roof products to other major markets, hopefully ours.
Personally, I believe a product like this presents the solid roof market sector within UK fenestration, and in fact the whole of the roofing market, with a unique opportunity to change the way we see solar technology and the role it plays within the wider construction sector. The Solar Roof is easily the more attractive option when compared to solar panels. It actually looks like a roof, rather than a roof with something else being bolted onto it. It also works in conjunction with another quality product, the Tesla Powerwall home battery, and with most installers in our industry having access to electricians, this could be a very technologically advanced diversification.
As we get nearer to production dates and actual products being made and sold I will be on the look out for reviews to see if Tesla and Solar City can deliver on their promises. If they do, then this is going to be a very exciting time for construction the world over and something I hope some of our industry’s biggest and best companies will look to be a part of.
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