Solar roofs are here, and if Elon Musk (C.E.O of Tesla) has his way, most homes will have this system installed in the next 15 years. But will they actually work or are they just aromantic fantasy of a better relationship between humans and mother earth?
The idea of solar roofs in a wider context is not a novel one. For the better part of the last two decades, man (that’s us) has been trying to play nice with the environment in the hopes of reversing (or halting) the not-yet-universally-accepted effects of using fossil fuels – climate change. This has seen nations commit to acquiring significant proportions of their energy from renewable sources in coming days and governments all over the world offer incentives to nudge their citizens to be greener.
Solar panel 2.0
This change in attitude by the general populace,in addition to seeing increased investment in renewable energy by governments, has also led to increased interest by the private sector into renewable energy sources. One of the products born out of this renewed strife towards a greener future is the solar panel roof tile, or the solar panel 2.0 if you like.
No matter what side of the divide you’re in (climate change believer or not), solar panel roof tiles sound like a pretty sweet deal – in theory at least. With solar roofs, you get a high-quality, durable roof that also provides you with free electricity; who wouldn’t like that?
How solar panel roof tiles work
Solar panel roof tiles are pretty similar to normal solar panels in how they work. They, however, combine the practicality of a normal roofing tile with the utility of a solar panel. This takes the form of a tile that is made up of an embedded solar cell sandwiched between two layers of durable glass.
The result is a roofing material that functions as a solar panel but maintains the design and aesthetic of a regular roof tile. As a bonus for using solar tiles instead of panels, the installation surface area becomes larger as the entire roof is available; thus increasing the potential for energy production.
Will solar panel roof tiles work?
So will they work, these fancy tiles? The short answer is yes. They are based on a tried and tested technology (photovoltaics), and so technically they should work to produce power. Will they work as well as normal roofs to protect your house? This we’ll have to wait and see. Manufacturers who have already brought the product to market promise that the tiles should last just as long as regular tile roofs if not longer.
Solar city, the Tesla subsidiary in the solar roof business, is going as far as offering an infinity warranty for its product and guarantying 30 years of energy production. This might make the product more appealing to early adopters and keep home insurance costs down.
As is the case with any new technology, however, the initial cost will be significantly high; higher than that of installing normal solar panels plus a new roof. Also, the solar roof will have to be reinstalled, or at least the power generating tiles replaced if you still want to continue generating power from it after 30 years, which will add to the cost.
All in all, solar panel roof tiles provide a great way of integrating solar power generation into an item every building cannot do without. But until innovators in this field address the issue of cost and obsolescence, solar panel roof tiles will face stiff competition from regular solar panels whose installation and replacement is a lot easier and cheaper with very similar results in terms of power production.
Article suggested by The Pressure Clean Experts