Elon Musk's vision for a solar powered sustainable future is set to become a reality from 2017, as Tesla announced that its SolarCity solar panel factory in Buffalo is expected to begin production of the solar roofing tiles soon so that the flagship products can hit the market by the end of the year.
The development followed Tesla's unveiling of the solar roof product in late October, about a month before the company acquired SolarCity in a deal worth $2.1 billion.
The solar roof will be offered in four styles: Textured Glass Tile, Slate Glass Tile, Tuscan Glass Tile, and Smooth Glass Tile — due to a variety of architectural choices. SolarCity’s website says production will begin in mid-2017 and that the tempered glass is as “tough as steel.”
The four types of shingles have been made to match different housing aesthetics in an effort to get homeowners to swap out traditional panels for a new modern look.
In their 2016 report, Tesla said that compared to regular roofs, they expect their solar roof to last longer, look better, and cost less than a traditional tile roof plus the cost of electricity.
"To support solar roof production, we announced a solar cell manufacturing partnership with Panasonic," the report said.
"Production is scheduled to begin in Buffalo, N.Y. this year."According to Business Insider, Musk emphasised the importance of competing on an aesthetic level when it comes to the new solar product offering.
"...I’ve never seen a solar roof that I would actually want… they're weird," Musk said, according to Business Insider.
"Every one of them that I’ve seen is worse than a normal roof, without exception. So unless you’re going to beat a roof on aesthetics, why bother?"Musk said the solar roof could cost less than an actual roof, but still hasn't given specific pricing information.
Lyndon Rive, SolarCity's former CEO, reportedly said on the company thinks they can get to a price point of 40 cents a Watt over time in large scale for the solar cells, which would put it in line with the competition.
Rive also said that the solar roof would most likely not fall under a lease or power purchase agreement, but instead as a straightforward loan - there would be no asset ownership challenge, just a transfer of ownership to the new homeowner.
The solar roof tiles are made of textured glass and from most viewing angles, they look just like ordinary shingles, but they allow light to pass through from above onto a standard flat solar cell.