In case you missed it: According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the company's new solar roof tiles will be affordable to the average homeowner. Musk says that they will be roughly the same cost as the typical shingle roof.
As with many of his projects, there have been several delays in the production of the solar rooftops. Initially, when Musk first announced the product in 2017, the company was supposed to start building them the following year, in 2018.
However, Tesla ran into some roadblocks in the production and delayed the rollout two years in a row.
Musk said that the reason for the delay was that he wanted to make sure he brought the best possible product to market. Specifically, he wanted to ensure that the roof would last for 30 years without needing a replacement.
During a shareholder meeting this year, Musk said that it has been a very challenging process to complete the very ambitious goals that the company set for itself.
“We are about to complete version 3 of the solar roof. This is actually quite a hard technology problem to have an integrated solar cell with a roof tile, have it look good, and last for 30 years. I am very excited about version 3 of solar roof. We have a shot at being equal to a comp shingle roof plus someone’s utility cost or being lower than that. That’s one of the cheapest roofs available. So you can have a great roof with better economics than a normal fairly cheap roof and your utility bill,” Musk said, according to Electrek.
The durability of the roof will be guaranteed for life, and will be guaranteed to generate power for up to 30 years, after that it may need repairs.
When the idea was first proposed, Tesla estimated that the solar roof would cost roughly $21.85 per square foot, which is extremely expensive.
To contrast some of the other prices found in the industry, the average shingle roof can cost as little as $4 per square foot, and a tile roof can sometimes cost up to $20 per square foot.
If Musk is saying that he can bring the cost down to match that of a shingle roof, that is a significant reduction in price. If he is able to bring this price to market it would be a game changer for the average consumer who does not have access to solar technology, but is going to replace their roof at some point anyway.
2016 data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) suggests that solar has actually already become the cheapest way to generate energy.
According to an estimate released by the International Energy Agency, solar will be the world’s primary source of energy by 2050.
This is good news, but that number may seem far off to some people, considering that solar energy currently represents less than 1% of the energy market.
Recent breakthroughs in solar technology are making it more efficient and cheaper to extract energy from the sun, which in turn, is making this technology more available to the average person.
Solar power is unlike most other energy resources because there is a limitless supply. This limitless supply of power could actually cause energy prices to drop so low that anyone could afford it. Like all technology, the technology to harness electricity from the sun will continue to become cheaper as it is developed and perfected.
A new type of solar panel could make the technology even more plausible. The new High Concentration PhotoVoltaic Thermal (HCPVT) system, developed by researchers at IBM, actually performs far better than the conventional solar panels on the market today. According to engineers, the new solar system can magnify the sun’s energy by 2000-5000 times.
The system works by using hundred of incredibly small solar cells, which are constantly cooled, allowing them to generate more energy than regular panels.
Traditional solar panels have problems with absorbing all the energy that is available, and are only able to take advantage of a small percentage of the energy that is within physical reach. This new design is able to collect far more energy, without wasting the excess.
The Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation has offered a $2.4 million grant to help with the development of this project, and the researchers hope that this technology could someday power the world for free.