UPDATE: Tesla has released details about a solar panel that will be fabricated by Panasonic at Tesla's Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, NY, for exclusive use by Tesla, Electrek reported Sunday. Tesla said it will use the system for all future residential projects through its recently acquired installation business, SolarCity. The 325-watt modules' mounting hardware will be concealed and the units will have a slender profile. Panasonic's currently available panels are 325 watts with 21.76% efficiency. The solar panel is separate from the company's shingle-based rooftop PV system.
The tiles will be made of textured glass by Panasonic Corp. and are expected to look identical to ordinary shingles that enable light to pass through them onto a flat photovoltaic cell, according to Bloomberg. Musk has said the rooftop solar cells will cost less to produce and install than traditional roofing materials, even before the estimated savings from the electricity saved by using the units.
Prices have not yet been determined for the units, but installations are set to begin in mid-2017, according to Tesla's website.
Solar is gaining traction in the residential market as more homeowners act on their own interests in energy efficiency or take advantage of the incentives to expand the adoption of PV technology, and as builders begin to take notice of such demand. The Solar Energy Industry Association estimated that more than 1 million homes included rooftop solar installations in 2016. Meanwhile, the Department of Energy forecasts usage to top 3.8 million homes by 2020.
The recent announcement by Miami–based builder Lennar to bring a 180-home, master-planned community powered by an onsite, 443-acre photovoltaic system is just one development upping the ante when it comes to residential solar installments. The country's northeast region also has a lot to gain from the increasing adoption of solar installations, according to a report by Redfin and the DOE. Adding such systems to houses could add to property values in the region and ease homeowners' electrical bills in an area where limited sun exposure can lead to hefty energy-consumption costs.
New systems aimed at shifting perceptions around solar installations by bringing in aesthetic elements are being developed to strengthen the technology's market value. While a more attractive design for the panels could be a boon to solar energy systems, a recent motion to include Home Energy Rating System scores in home appraisals also stands to raise the number of PV systems on the market by streamlining the financing process for such systems between builders and buyers.
Though Tesla has broken into the residential solar panel market, the company will profit off the industry further with its planned installation of a 70-megawatt solar farm situated above its $5 billion electric battery factory in Nevada — a development that is forecast to claim the title of the world's largest rooftop solar array. Across the industry, energy-related developments have been a boon for construction employment, with the DOE finding that the energy-efficiency sub-sector provided the majority of more than 2 million construction jobs created in 2016.