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Are Tesla solar roof tiles worth it?

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The rollout of the first Tesla solar roof tiles in 2018, almost 18 months after the announcement of the Tesla solar roof in October 2016, was another defining victory in the Tesla story that started with their iconic Tesla cars and has now grown to include Tesla solar panels and the Tesla home battery (Powerwall).

Where did the inspiration for the Tesla solar roof come from?

The technology behind the first solar roof tiles (also called solar shingles) was developed in the 1970s. Since then, several companies have attempted to produce a solar medium that would look and function like a traditional roofing system and also replace traditional solar panel add-ons.

While building integrated photovoltaic (known as BIPV) options aren’t a new concept, the Tesla’s Solar Roof products have taken aesthetics to a whole new level – just as Tesla Motors have done with their electric cars.

How much does a Tesla solar roof cost compared to regular roofing materials?

The Tesla solar tiles are a premium product. Constructed of thin layers of quartz – they are virtually unbreakable. While price estimates may eventually vary depending on location and installation costs, Tesla insists that their solar roofing tiles will sell for a price of $21.85 per square foot. The cost of regular roofing materials is between $1-$2 per square foot for asphalt shingles.

At $21.85 per square foot, the Tesla solar roof price for a 2,500 square foot home is around $54,000. This cost has been one of the reasons Tesla solar roof installations have been slow through the last half of 2018. However, while the upfront costs are expensive for Tesla solar roof customers, Tesla claims that the solar roof tiles will last a lifetime whereas conventional roofing materials might only last 10-20 years.

What is the Tesla solar panel roof?

Tesla roof panels are unlike traditional solar panels in that every tile contains one solar cell. They not only look like, and function as, conventional roofing materials, such as terracotta, slate, or asphalt, they also produce electricity!

The Solar Roof line of products is unique among other solar options because it doesn’t resemble a typical solar installation. Every solar cell is embedded invisibly within every glass tile. The tiles are then installed like traditional roofing shingles or tiles. If you didn’t know the roof was a Tesla product, you’d probably never realize it.

Unlike other solar products, Tesla systems are designed to collect up to 98 percent of the solar energy that traditional arrays collect. The unique type of louvered glass tile works in much the same way as window blinds by reflecting sunlight to appear opaque while still absorbing the rays of the sun.

The electricity generated by the solar roof tiles is then used to power your house – and possibly also to charge the Powerwall battery if you choose to store your solar energy for later use. Tesla tiles can be installed on new construction, as part of a re-roofing project. For the pros and cons of installing energy storage with your solar panels check out our blog.

There’s a 30 percent Solar Investment Tax Credit that homeowners can qualify for that applies not only to the cost of the tiles but also to any associated equipment and the cost of one or more Powerwall batteries for your system.

To qualify for the full tax credit, it’s a must to have federal income tax liability equal to the value of the amount of the tax credit. Luckily, this can be carried over to subsequent tax years. Additional utility, local, or state tax and solar incentives may apply. Early estimates say the average return for a 1,800 square foot home in California is nearly $88,000 in saved energy costs over 25 years. However, this is an average, and the actual result will vary a lot from house to house.

To find out the potential solar savings at your house based on your location, power use, utility rates for power and roof you can use our solar savings calculator.

What are the advantages of Tesla solar roof tiles?

Although the upfront investment seems high, there are several advantages to installing Tesla solar tiles on your roof:

  • Aesthetically, Tesla solar tiles put traditional solar arrays to shame. There are no bulky frames or visible wiring and junction boxes. The tiles look like regular roofing tiles – which could significantly increase the value of your home.
  • While the initial purchase and installation costs for Tesla tiles are impressive, like other solar options, this product will pay for itself.
  • Because the design of these tiles makes them nearly indestructible, Tesla offers to replace their tiles as long as you own your home – without time limits.

Can it be argued that the Tesla solar roof has an attractive investment return?

One of the reasons investing in Tesla roofing tiles is attractive is because it’s not necessary to reshingle your entire roof to take advantage of the solar benefits. If your roof does need replacing, Tesla recommends only investing in replacing between 35 to 50 percent of your roof with solar tiles.

While the initial price of Tesla’s Solar Roof may look intimidating, estimates indicate that the owner of an average 3,000 square foot home would pay around $60,000 for a Tesla solar roof, compared to a traditional installation of approximately $26,000.

In the United States, until 2019, homeowners who choose to install a partial replacement or full roof may qualify to deduct 30 percent of the costs from their taxes. Unless Congress extends the deadlines, after 2019, the credit drops to 26 percent. Starting in 2020, it drops to 22 percent, and after 2021, residential solar investors will receive no credits.

Who installs Tesla roof tiles?

Tesla will be offering certification training to installers who will be able to properly install the right type of tile in the correct area(s) of your roof. Tesla is already taking solar roof pre-orders.

It is hard to know when all of the styles of the Tesla solar roof will be available and, given the federal solar tax credit steps down at the end of 2019, we would recommend that if you own a house that has a roof in reasonable condition that you get solar quotes on conventional solar panels. Traditional solar panels will work out cheaper.

However, if you are building a new house and so need to wait anyway, a Tesla solar roof would be an excellent addition to ensure your new home has a roof that will last and solar energy to meet your needs now and into the future. 

 

Solar Panels

Truck trailers with solar panels can save fuel

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In a research partnership, Scania will develop a solar cell clad trailer to power a plug-in hybrid truck. Initial tests indicate possible fuel savings of 5–10 percent in Sweden and twice that amount in sun-rich southern Spain.

“Solar cells have previously been employed on boats and caravans but then only to power auxiliaries such as refrigerators and cookers and not the actual powertrain,” says Eric Falkgrim, Technology Leader in Vehicle Design at Scania R&D.

An 18-metre long solar cell clad trailer

The truck will be operated in daily transport assignments by the Swedish haulier Ernst Express, which also collaborated with Scania in trials of the world’s first electric road with overhead catenary lines. Ernst Express will operate an 18-metre long solar cell clad trailer with a total area along the sides and roof of 140 square metres. In total, the solar panels are expected in Sweden to annually generate 14,000 kWh.

The research project will also examine whether the trailer can feed electricity into the grid when the batteries are fully charged and the truck is parked, for example, over weekends.

Fuel savings up to 10 percent in Sweden

In a pre-study, operations in mid-Sweden were simulated reaching a potential fuel saving of 5–10 percent. In Sweden, there is enough sunlight from spring to autumn to generate energy and although the sun is weak except during summer, there are more  hours of sunlight. During the rest of the year , there is insufficient sun in Sweden. By contrast, southern Spain has 80 percent more hours of sunlight.

 The project is publicly funded the Swedish government’s innovation agency Vinnova and aside from Scania and Ernst Express also engages Midsummer that manufactures the solar panels, Uppsala University, which conducts advanced research on more efficient solar cells, and the Dalakraft energy company.

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FRV secures Green Finance for Sebastopol Solar Farm, NSW, Australia

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Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV), part of Abdul Latif Jameel Energy and a leading global developer of renewable energy projects, closed the financing agreement for the 90 MWac Sebastopol Solar Farm – its third major project in New South Wales.

 The funding is entirely provided by ING in the form of a Green Finance compliant with the Loan Market Association (LMA) Green Loan Principles and the Green Projects requirements.

FRV signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for the project with Snowy Hydro in March 2020.  In August FRV successfully completed the construction of the 69.75 MWac New South Wales Goonumbla Solar Farm, which also has a PPA awarded to FRV as part of the Snowy Hydro Renewable Energy Procurement Program in 2018.

Located 16 km south of Temora, approximately 440 km south-west of Sydney, New South Wales, the plant will connect to the national grid and generate enough power to supply over 40,000 Australian households and avoid the emission of approximately 77,600 tons of CO2 annually.  This is the equivalent of removing some 27,700 cars from the roads each year.

Sebastopol Solar Farm will contribute to the economic development of the local area.  FRV anticipate the creation of up to 150 jobs during the construction phase, and 2-3 operational staff for the life of the project.  Site maintenance contracts will also be required and will be met by local businesses.

 FRV has developed and secured PPA for a total of seven solar projects in Australia, operating and committed with an accumulated investment of over US$ 700 million since 2012: Royalla (20 MWac) in the Australian Capital Territory, Clare (100 MWac) and Lilyvale (100 MWac) in Queensland, Moree (56 MWac), Goonumbla (69.75 MWac) and Sebastopol (90 MWac) in New South Wales and Winton (85 MWac) in Victoria.

Carlo Frigerio, Managing Director of FRV in Australia, said: “This is our second financial close this year following Winton solar Farm in Victoria and I am delighted to see another FRV project starting construction in New South Wales after our successful delivery of the Goonumbla Solar Farm few months ago”.  Mr Frigerio also added “We are also very glad to receive funding for the Project from ING in the form of a Green Finance confirming FRV’s commitment to support environmentally sustainable economic activity in the regions where we operate”.

Fady Jameel, Deputy President and Vice Chairman of Abdul Latif Jameel, said: “Through FRV, our flagship renewables business, Abdul Latif Jameel Energy furthers its commitment to delivering clean energy solutions in key global markets.  We are grateful for our partnership with ING, securing a groundbreaking Green Finance for the Sebastopol Solar Farm. Together, we are encouraging responsible and sustainable infrastructure development in Australia’s renewable energy sector.”

Gordon Wymer, Chief Commercial Officer of Snowy Hydro, said “We are extremely pleased that FRV has progressed this project through the financial close milestone”. Mr. Wymer also added “Snowy Hydro continues to build its renewable energy portfolio, enabling new wind and solar projects to be built. This is providing much needed competition in the C&I market as well as a great outcome for our environment”.

Gido van Graas, Managing Director & Head of Energy of ING Australia, said: Following the recent financing for the Winton and Goonumbla Solar Farms this is our third transaction with FRV in Australia and marks another milestone for our Energy team in Sydney who also acted as Green Structuring Advisor.  By using a green loan to fund the construction of the Sebastopol Solar Farm is a clear testament of FRVs commitment to a sustainable future and contributes towards ING’s ambition to align our lending portfolio with the Paris Agreement goals”.

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The Spanish company ESAsolar develops ESAblock, the first system that protects photovoltaic trackers from the Wind

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The Spanish engineering and manufacturing company of photovoltaic structures, Esasolar, has developed ESAblock, the first system in the world that protects solar trackers installed in the photovoltaic plants from the wind. This pioneering system guarantees the stability of the solar trackers and avoids the effect known as galloping or fluttering at any wind speed.

The Galloping or fluttering effect is an aeroelastic instability caused by the wind that is characterized for causing great amplitude oscillations in the tracker structures, producing a movement that can end with its collapse, literally making the structures and the photovoltaic panels that support it fly.

Esablock technology solves one of the great problems faced by large photovoltaic energy installations: the wind. The system guarantees their protection against it.

Wind gusts, even at normal and moderate speeds, can generate instabilities in photovoltaic structures and damage them, something that happens much more often than is desirable and that has a very negative influence on the performance and profitability of photovoltaic plants, which, in addition to the reparation costs, are forced to stop, either partially or completely their activity, which has a negative effect on the production of electricity and its profit.

As Antonio Jesús Martín Nuñez, technical director of Esasolar explains, “so far, with the protection systems available on the market, they only begin to work when the wind exceeds the working speed of the tracker, which, generally, is usually lower than 75 Km / h. It often happens that, at lower wind speeds, the catastrophic effects of Galloping or Flutter can occur, even with the traditional protection system activated”.

As a catastrophic example of this effect, the technical director of Esasolar mentions the Tacoma bridge case in the US, which collapsed in 1940 because moderate-speed winds produced an aerolastic flap that coincided with the natural frequency of the bridge, causing its collapse.

According to the general director of Esasolar, José Antonio Maldonado, the great contribution of this system is that it combines the versatility and efficiency of solar trackers (structures that move to orientate themselves towards the sun) with the safety of fixed structures, which always remain in the same place and position.

“Our technology – explains Maldonado – allows the structure to move in order to follow the sun, but once it has reached its new position it stops and it blocks itself as if it were a fixed structure, which is not affected by the wind; This means that it is always protected and safe, and makes the wind just one more environmental factor, but not a risk ”.

Innovation: a key element for the Spanish photovoltaic sector development

The development of ESAblock technology, which has been developed in the company’s research center in La Roda de Andalucía (Sevilla), is an example of the company’s innovation philosophy that characterizes Esasolar.

As Maldonado highlights, Spanish companies have an extraordinary opportunity to lead the solar world energy market by contributing with their innovation and knowledge capacity along with their extensive experience. “It is not only about benefiting of the advantages that photovoltaic energy can have in our country by the installation of photovoltaic facilities, but also, it is about using our knowledge to lead the world market and to offer our technologies, products and services to build photovoltaic installations all over the world”.

Esasolar is a Spanish company, an international leader in the designing, manufacturing and supply of photovoltaic solar structures and trackers. With offices in Madrid, Sevilla and La Roda de Andalucía (Sevilla). It also has a research center in the latter location where solutions are developed that will be supplied to clients all around the world.

Esasolar’s added value is present on its strong vocation for innovation, research and development, as well as its ability to adapt and customize its proposed solutions in all projects to the needs of each client.

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