Tesla unveils new solar and battery products after SolarCity takeover

Tesla CEO Elon Musk's acquisition of solar energy company is part of Musk's vision of a future without fossil fuels

29 October 2016, 11:44am
Tesla's new solar roof tiles will be practically indistinguishable from roof tiles currently available on the market.
Tesla's new solar roof tiles will be practically indistinguishable from roof tiles currently available on the market.
Elon Musk, the visionary chief executive of Tesla,  has unveiled new energy-related productswhich the electric car and battery producer has engineered together with new acquisition SolarCity.

The products are aimed at realising the billionaire entrepreneur's vision of persuading consumers to embrace a lifestyle that doesn't depend on fossil fuels. Musk showed off solar roof tiles that he said eliminated the need for traditional photovoltaic panels. A longer-life home battery, dubbed the Powerwall, was also on display.

“This is sort of the integrated future. An electric car, a Powerwall and a solar roof. The key is it needs to be beautiful, affordable and seamlessly integrated,” Musk said.

Musk is the biggest shareholder in both Tesla and SolarCity, which is run by two of his cousins. The proposed merger has the subject of controversy because Musk is already SolarCity's chairman and largest financier, and there are strong links between the boards of both companies. Shareholders are to vote on the proposed merger Nov. 17.

By incorporating solar modules into rooftops, Tesla is hoping to succeed with a solar technology that has had little success in the past. Earlier this year, Dow Chemical announced that it would be stopping production of a solar tile it had launched five years ago.

Tesla’s glass solar roof tiles would look far better than any similar product, Musk said.

Few details of how much purchasing and installing the tiles would cost are available, but Musk claims that the cost of the roof would be less than that of a conventional roof with added solar panels. The product would be attractive to home builders and those planning to replace their roofs, Musk said, boasting that the tiles would be more durable and have better insulation qualities than conventional roofing materials.

Musk’s cousin, SolarCity co-founder Peter Rive, said he believed the tiles could capture a 5% share of the new roof market in the next two years with little effort. 

The new generation of home and industrial batteries will be in production this year.