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Elon Musk unveils solar roof tiles: What are the critics saying?

iFriday, Nov 11th, 2016 comments by aditilachman

By Minaz Munshi.

Minaz, our #1MillionGirlsinSTEM Campaign Manager takes a look at new technology unveiled by Elon Musk recently...

South African born entrepreneur Elon Musk is renowned for his innovative concepts from electric cars to reusable rockets. Taking it a step further in his vision for a clean-energy society Musk has just introduced the Tesla solar roof.

Now you may be thinking “Wow, why hasn’t anyone does this before?!” and the answer is it has been tried, tested and failed for the last 10 years. Dow Chemical Co. in June 2016 abandoned a 5 year effort to build a profitable market for their Powerhouse solar shingles. Whereas Energy Conversion Devices Incorporated, who produced flexible sheets of solar for rooftops, filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

So we ask the question “What makes Tesla’s solar shingles different?” Musk has said that the solar roof once installed would look better than a traditional roof, last longer and provide better insulation whilst powering up your house. The solar singles will also be available in four styles: Tuscan glass, textured glass, slate glass and smooth glass. This is major appeal factor to customers who have previously been discouraged from solar roofs as they were available as big black silicon panels. Musk has also gone on to say that the installation of the roof would cost about as much, or even less, than a traditional roof.

This sounds amazing, but critics are expressing their concern over the efficiency, cost and reliability of the solar roof. The solar roof tiles might be aesthetically pleasing but due to colour being used they block the absorption of light from certain angles, rendering them less efficient. This would be a major challenge during cloudy and rainy days as the solar shingles will not be able to capture the maximum amount of energy. This coupled with ambiguity around the solar roof installation and maintenance costs, experts are weary that Tesla will be able to succeed in penetrating the solar roof market.

With all that being said if Tesla can manage to pull this off, we might be looking into a future where we power our own houses! And that is exciting!

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