• What Are Elon Musk’s Solar Roof Tiles?

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What Are Elon Musk’s Solar Roof Tiles?

Nov 09 2016

CEO of Tesla Elon Musk has unveiled a range of new solar roof tiles which he hopes will simultaneously rejuvenate his new partner company, SolarCity, as well as revolutionising the solar roofing industry.

The demonstration took place on houses which were formerly used as part of the set for the US sitcom Desperate Housewives in LA, with Musk showcasing the products as part of an initiative to highlight the benefits of joining Tesla – primarily an electric car and battery company – with the solar panel installing firm.

A marriage of convenience?

Up until now, Tesla has concerned itself with manufacturing electric cars (including the invention of an exciting new transportation hyperloop) and the development of huge, home-powering batteries (the first of which was installed on British soil earlier this year). Now, however, Tesla is combining with SolarCity to branch out into the solar roofing tiles market.

Critics of the merger have suggested that it is only being instigated in order to save the floundering SolarCity, which has been losing money and is managed by two of Tusk’s cousins. As the majority shareholder in both Tesla and SolarCity, Tusk has extensive powers in the making of decisions such as these, though other investors will be allowed a vote on the proposed merger later this month.

With that in mind, Tusk hosted the demonstration as a means of reassuring those who believe the merger is nothing more than financial nepotism.

“This is sort of the integrated future: an electric car, a Powerwall and a solar roof,” Musk explained in front of a sizable crowd. “The key is it needs to be beautiful, affordable and seamlessly integrated.” He went on to add that the development of the roofing tiles would be “unwieldy” if the two companies did not merge, explaining that having separate entities “slows things down, makes them more expensive. It’s worse for shareholders.”

A shot in the arm for a flagging industry

Despite the global increase of the photovoltaics market, the solar roofing industry in the US has not seen as big an upsurge as solar panels. Tusk is hoping that his new product will change all that, revitalising the face of solar roof tiles across the States.

According to the billionaire entrepreneur, his tiles are aesthetically more attractive and more versatile than any other product currently on the market, with the ability to be manufactured in a number of different styles.

What’s more, he also estimates that they will cost less than the installation of a conventional roof that has solar panels mounted on top of it, though he did not get into specifics regarding pricing. He also said they would be more insulating and longer lasting than traditional roofing tiles, making them an attractive proposition for new homes being built or old ones being reroofed.

Meanwhile, his cousin Pete Rive, who is the co-founder of SolarCity, estimated that the company could command as much as 5% of the new roof market within two years. Whether Tusk will enjoy the same success in the solar industry as he has in the EV and battery one remains to be seen, but he continues to show his entrepreneurial innovation with this latest project.


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