Tesla’s textured glass roofing shingles will cost less to make and install then comparable, high-end terra-cotta and slate roofs, Tesla CEO Elon Musk told shareholders last week, according to Bloomberg.
Musk's announcement was the first to follow official shareholder approval of the Tesla-SolarCity merger, indicating the solar company’s appetite for innovating in the building materials space.
Savings are realized by improvements in product durability and weight, which is expected to significantly reduce per-unit shipping costs, in addition to providing solar electric power to the home.
Tesla’s exploration of the technological promise of common building materials in conjunction with the company’s SolarCity acquisition isn’t necessarily validation of smart-building, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
Indeed, smart-home technology has quickly expanded from IoT-connected thermostats and refrigerators to advanced sensor and power-generating capabilities from a product as simple as a roof tile. Already, pundits and media observers are comparing Tesla’s solar shingles by slapping traditional material construction with a “dumb roof” moniker.
While Musk brings a marquee name to a burgeoning solar-generating building-products market, Tesla isn’t the first to explore solar roof tiles and shingles. As early as 2012, Swedish company SolTech began exploring the use of glass roof tiles to upgrade the esthetics of rooftop solar, while Italian company Dyaqua more recently commercialized photovoltaic systems that can be encased in tile, block, shingle and even driveway pavers.
Other companies including SunTegra and Solarmass will look to compete with Tesla for rooftop solar real estate. Success to any player isn’t guaranteed despite the market hype, as the sector has seen its fair share of failure, including the SunEdison solar shingle developed in partnership with Dow Chemical.