Elon Musk leads Tesla’s efforts to build house roofs entirely from solar panel technology

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A new company, led by Elon Musk, will create rooftops made entirely of solar panels. This is a major expansion of Tesla’s clean energy ambitions.

Tesla has signed a $ 2.6 billion deal to purchase solar energy company SolarCity to make solar “shingles” – photovoltaic material that will be shaped into the shape of a house roof.

“I think this is really a fundamental part of achieving a differentiated product strategy where you have a nice roof,” said Musk. “It’s not a thing on the roof. It’s the roof. “

Musk is the managing director of Tesla and also the chairman and largest shareholder of SolarCity, whose managing director is Musk’s cousin Lyndon Rive. The two entrepreneurs came up with the idea for SolarCity during a trip to the Burning Man Desert Festival in 2004.

Musk describes the deal as a no-brainer, subject to shareholder approval, combining the roofs of the solar panels with Tesla’s PowerWall home batteries to store electricity for later use in the evening.

A statement from Tesla and SolarCity said they will create the “world’s only vertically integrated sustainable energy company” and will be working on the release of two new solar roof products by the end of the year. However, SolarCity has lowered its forecast for megawatts for this year, citing costs.

The idea of ​​sun shingles isn’t entirely new – Dow Chemical made it before deciding in June to ditch the idea. However, Musk, an entrepreneur who has advocated a global carbon tax to cut greenhouse gas emissions, hopes the SolarCity company will give Tesla the opportunity to offer one-stop-shop for clean energy in addition to batteries and electric cars.

According to Rive, 5 million new roofs are installed in the US every year. The vast majority of American homes have asphalt roofs that absorb a lot of heat and are difficult to replace.

“If your roof needs replacing, you don’t want to invest in solar panels to install because you want to take it down – but if the solar panels are the roof and you have to redo anyway, there is no reason not to go without a power generating roof “Said Rive.

In the US, the cost of solar panels has decreased by 70% over the past decade. There are now more than 1 million American households equipped with solar panels – up from just 30,000 in 2006. In July, the Obama administration announced an initiative to supply one gigawatt of solar to low-income households by 2020.

It is estimated that PV modules on 0.6% of America’s land mass would provide enough power to power the entire country. California has taken the lead in both household power generation and large-scale solar power generation. Half of the households with solar panels achieved a peak generation of 8 megawatts of electricity from solar systems on July 12th – enough to supply more than 6 million households with electricity.

Rapid deployment of clean energy will be necessary if the US and other countries are to cut emissions fast enough to meet the climate change targets set in a landmark international agreement in Paris last year.

The endeavors of the agreement to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial times should, according to a current analysis, be on the current issue price within just five years.

Even if emissions are radically reduced in the next few years, technology still underdeveloped must be used to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it underground to avoid temperatures that raise the oceans so much that low-lying nations will flood and cause food and water insecurity for many other countries.