In addition to Elon Musk’s earlier renewable energy breakthroughs with Tesla brand electric cars and the Powerwall, the next big step for Tesla is to turn roofs into solar energy collectors for sustainable power within the home. Appropriately titled “Solar Roof,” the technology aims to make home-based solar energy collection affordable, practical, and most importantly, attractive.
In 2016, Elon Musk announced a new technology in solar energy collection- Solar panels that blend functionally and aesthetically into the roofs of consumers. The technology is partly based around one of the traditional drawbacks of home solar collectors: They are simply unattractive. Traditional solar panels are bulky, and most often placed in the yard or sitting on top of the conventional roof structure of a home. Tesla’s Solar Roof technology places the solar panels themselves directly into the tiles found on roofs. The technology claims to disguise the actual solar collector cells by making them nearly invisible from the ground, and only seen clearly from above the home, which, conveniently, is where the Sun is located.
Solar Roof currently has four different styles of solar panel roof tiles for customers to choose from: Tuscan Glass, Slate Glass, Textured Glass, and Smooth Glass, and it can be expected that more choices will be offered in the future. The technology is meant to be paired with other Tesla innovations, such as the Powerwall, to provide clean, renewable energy for the home (and, presumably, for electric cars).
The biggest downside to the new technology, as is the case with most contemporary renewable energy tech, is upfront cost: Estimates for a Solar Roof installation could cost in upwards of $60,000, according to Consumer Reports. However, as in the case with most renewable energy sources, the cost savings over the lifetime of the Solar Roof must also be taken into account. In the long term, renewable energy sources are indeed more cost effective, but come with higher upfront expenditures.
Business Insider has an excellent video that provides an overview of the Solar Roof.