SolarCity amps up the visual appeal with Solar Roof

Elon Musk shows off the Solar Roof, show on the houses around the product’s launch event. / SolarCity

As usual, Elon Musk is trying to change the face of environmentally friendly technology as we know it. Tesla, in collaboration with SolarCity —whom their shareholders have recently given them the go ahead to buy— have introduced a new range of solar roof panels that they say will change how people look at solar energy.

At the product’s launch event, held in a neighbourhood of houses already equipped with the solar roof, Musk arrived in typical tech-magnate fashion, with booming bass and cheers from the gathered crowd.

“Let’s talk about the reason why we’re doing this,” said Musk. “We’re reaching record CO2 levels. Global warming is a serious crisis and we need to do something about that.”

Enter the Solar Roof, a product that looks just like, or possibly even better than a standard roof but comes with solar panel all over it, invisible to anyone looking at it from street level. The company even claim the product will cost less than a standard roof when you factor in all the money you’ll save on your utility bills.

“We really need to make solar panels as appealing as electric cars have become,” said Musk.

Electric vehicles, he reminded the crowd, used to be about as useful as a golf cart and just as attractive. With limited range, limited options and very limited visual appeal, consumers were reluctant to convert to the new technology, regardless of its environmental appeal. Enter Tesla, and their competitors such as BMW, Chevy and Toyota, with electric and hybrid-electric cars that look as good as a regular gas-guzzling sports car.

Musk says Tesla and SolarCity intend to do the same thing for sustainable energy. The roof tiles look good, last longer than a standard roof and generate electricity.

“Why would you buy anything else?” asks Musk.

According to Musk, his goal is to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to sustainable energy. Musk emphasize that the solution to the fossil fuel crisis lies not only in local power generation, but also in utility companies, where Tesla has focused it’s efforts on the Powerpack, which stores 10 megawatt hours, or 1000 kilowatt hours, of energy.

What’s the catch? The solar roof is intended to work with the Tesla Powerwall, which itself costs several thousand dollars depending on the model. The Powerwall 2, also introduced at the event, costs $5500 and Musk says it can power all of the lights, sockets, and fridge for a full day, and indefinitely if combined with the solar roof. To help with the cost, Tesla/SolarCity will offer several financing options from leasing to loans.

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