Australia has been somewhat distracted by lots of updates on giga-factories and Tesla’s electric vehicle news, but hasn’t been paying so much attention to the company’s renewable energy department. This department has, it seems, been busy with setting out its stall for its solar shingles.
The news hit Twitter when Tesla mega-fan Tesla Tom announced in mid-February that he’d gone and ordered himself a solar roof.
A solar roof is the next step up from regular panels. The entire roof is made of solar glass in the form of tiles, or shingles, and even though it’s a new product, Elon Musk believes it’s set to proliferate like “kelp on steroids” across the rooftops of the world.
You can reserve but not order
Despite Tesla Tom’s declaration, it seems that when hit the order button on the Tesla site, you’re making a reservation or a statement of interest rather than an actual order. There’s no deposit or quote involved, just a notice that tesla will be in touch when the shingles become available in your region.
The US may be the initial testing ground
Around the same time as TT claimed to have ordered the shingles, Musk himself said that the solar roofs were expanding throughout several more states in the US and would head overseas later in 2020.
This could mean that Australian customers get their shingles later in 2020 or it could be next year; there’s no definite timescale. The roofs have, however, not got too far beyond California yet, so it could be later rather than sooner.
Not much fine detail yet
Tesla hasn’t said what the size and power output of the tiles will be, either. All we know so far is that the Australian will offer the basic grey textured shingle.
The tiles being used in US installations originally were the second iteration and were 25W each. Last October’s third iteration, produced at the Tesla Gigafactory in Buffalo, are bigger and have a larger output.
Musk has said that versions one and two of the shingles were practise runs for this third version and that he believes this latest iteration is the one that will hit the big time in the global market.
There’s some scepticism about the solar shingles
The solar industry as a whole has quite a bit of scepticism about how the solar roofs will be delivered and also about the technology itself, but as usual, Musk is quite undeterred.
He admitted in a webcast launch back in October 2019 that on the face of it a solar roof might seem like a strange product, but that he felt it was something that should exist. The fact that it should exist, he said, was enough reason and motivation for his company to go ahead and develop and make it.
Still a long way to go
There are a few issues that will need to be ironed out, according to Musk (although he didn’t go into much detail), but eventually solar roofs will become commonplace.