In 10 years, every new house built in Australia might have a roof made up of solar tiles. That's the pipe dream of Elon Musk, but the almighty dollar might help make the decision for buyers — especially if the Tesla solar roof is cheaper than normal tiles.
In a special meeting with shareholders to discuss Tesla's just-rubber-stamped merger with SolarCity — a company founded by Musk's cousin Lyndon Rive — the self-described energy company's CEO told investors that its recently unveiled solar roof would cost buyers less than a 'normal' roof:
It’s looking quite promising that a solar roof will actually cost less than a normal roof before you even take the value of electricity into account.
So the basic proposition would be, ‘Would you like a roof that looks better than a normal roof, last twice as long, cost less and by the way generates electricity?’ Why would you get anything else?
If you're thinking that headline doesn't really make sense, though, you're not wrong. In his estimates, Musk has been comparing the combined SolarCity/Tesla solar roof product to some of the high-end roofing options available in the US — slate and concrete roofs, rather than the cheaper corrugated steel roofs that plenty of houses have installed in Australia.
SolarCity is apparently targeting an overall cost of around 40 cents per Watt for its solar roof tiles, putting them in the same pricing range as the newest efficiently-produced solar panels from companies like First Solar. The labour cost of installing solar roof tiles would be higher than for larger, individual panels, but would be lower than installing a non-solar roof and solar panels atop it.
If you were planning on re-tiling your roof with terracotta or concrete or slate tiles, or if you're building a new home in a couple of years, it seems like a solar roof might be a pretty tempting proposition. We know that more than a couple of Aussie solar companies are planning on distributing Tesla's solar tile alongside the new Powerwall 2 home battery. [Business Insider]