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Elon Musk’s New Project: Solar Shingles

Forget Solar Panels Let’s Make the Entire Roof a Solar Collector

This is what Elon Musk is ready to do.

The Founder and CEO of Tesla, well-known for his edgy innovations, sees the roof as more than a home for a few solar panels. Musk wants to radically redesign the entire concept of the roof. Rather than solar panels sitting on the roof, the roof itself would be a giant solar panel.

A house roof that is a solar panel would move Tesla’s clean energy goals forward in a truly radical way. And to put teeth in the concept, Tesla has invested $2.6 billion in the purchase of SolarCity, a solar power company. According to a joint statement by Musk and Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity, their initiative is creating the “world’s only vertically integrated sustainable energy company.”

Functional and Good Looking

SolarCity’s job is to design a photovoltaic material that can be molded into the shape of a roof. In this way, the roof will become a huge solar energy collector and at the same time not take away from the architectural line of the house. Enhancing its functionality, the solar roof will work with Tesla’s PowerWall home battery system. Electricity can be collected, stored and utilized at peak usage times.

The Solar Roof Concept was Born at Burning Man

The idea of a solar roof was conceived some time ago. According to Musk, he and Rive discussed the concept at the 2004 Burning Man festival. Until now, they have been polishing the myriad of details that are required to make it a success, not the least of which was funding and shareholder approval. They hope to have two solar roof products on the market by the end of this year, although Rive believes this schedule may need some adjusting.

Roofs are a Multi-Billion Dollar Market

The concept makes great sense. Rive says that approximately 5 million new roofs are installed annually in the U.S. More consumers are installing solar panels due to increased government initiatives. Musk and Rive see a solar roof as the next logical step.


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