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Tesla's new solar shingles could be the spark needed to ignite the industry

Lucas Mearian | Nov. 1, 2016
Four solar tiles will tie tightly into Tesla's manufacturing and sales of household and commercial battery systems

"There's about four to five million new roofs in the U.S. every year, and I think 20 times that number world wide," Musk said. "So you can imagine over time as people replace their roofs with solar roofs... everyone would have solar. Why wouldn't you?"

Tesla Energy's new solar tiles tie tightly into the company's all-electric car business in two ways. The photovoltaic-produced electricity can be used to charge a vehicle, and it can also be stored in one of two battery systems Tesla is manufacturing at its Gigafactory in Reno, Nev.

The company's goal with its new rooftop tiles is to spur adoption of clean, inexpensive electricity to create a "seamless and convenient charging experience wherever customers choose to travel."

"Tesla owners can enjoy the convenience of plugging in anywhere to charge. Whether it's at home, in the office, or on a long distance road trip, Tesla has you covered," the company said in its marketing materials.

Along with announcing its solar tiles, Tesla debuted an upgrade to its residential lithium-ion battery storage system, the Powerwall battery pack. Tesla said the new Powerwall 2 system has 14 kilowatt hours (kWh) of capacity with 5kW of continuous output and a 7kW peak output rating.

"You need battery packs because the sun doesn't shine at night," Musk said. "You can take a four-bedroom house and power the fridge, sockets and lights for a day. And, If you have solar on your house, you can power it indefinitely. That's just with one [battery pack]."

Earlier on Friday, Tesla Energy announced it had doubled the capacity of the second generation of its commercial lithium-ion battery system -- the Powerpack 2. This also doubled power capacity over the original Powerpack from 100kWh to 210kWh, with a 50kW continuous output.

"We think it's great. We think this direction of offering more than just a solar panel on a roof is important for making the solar market go mainstream. Three of four homeowners if given choice prefer system more tightly integrated," said Oliver Koehler, CEO and founder of three-year-old solar shingle maker SunTegra.

SunTegra is one of two companies currently selling rooftop solar shingles and tiles; the other is CertainTeed.

Koehler believes Tesla and SolarCity's entrance into the solar shingle market can only help with industry exposure, which has been limited at best.

Tesla solar home roof
A home with Tesla's new Tuscan solar slate tile.

Dow had manufactured the Powerhouse Solar Shingle, but after five years the product was discontinued earlier this year. Dow plans to license the intellectual property for its Powerhouse shingles to other manufacturers.


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