SolarCity plans "solar roof" to power Tesla's master plan

Forget solar panels retrofitted on top of your roof: SolarCity is working on an ambitious plan to actually tile your home itself with solar panels. The Elon Musk backed energy startup – which Tesla announced recently it would acquire – currently offers modular arrays of panels that can be installed onto existing roofs in different sizes, but the future it envisages is far more cleanly integrated.

Rather than having a regular roof and then a solar array on top of that, SolarCity's idea is to make the solar panels serve both purposes. The so-called "solar roof" was discussed in an investor call by the company this week, as well as some of its advantages outlined.

According to SolarCity chairman Elon Musk, not only does the solar roof look "way better" than the current system of retrofitting panels, it "lasts much longer" than a traditionally tiled roof too.

For SolarCity, it could also provide a gateway into a new segment of solar hold-outs: those who are opting not to tap into the green energy because they're waiting to re-roof their house. If the company could grab a slice of what's said to be a five million per year roof replacement market, that could significantly increase its footprint.

Musk's company isn't the first to consider combining solar panels and roofing tiles, though with 275,000+ existing customers SolarCity has the scale to make it a far more practical home upgrade.

The solar roof would also dovetail neatly into another of Musk's pet projects, Tesla's home battery packs. Combining a solar roof with a Tesla Powerwall would not only ensure electricity when the sun was shining, but make energy available during the night or when inclement weather reduced the panels' efficiency.

Powerwall batteries use the same technology as Tesla's car batteries, but act as a residential store for spare energy that can be called upon to run home appliances, lighting, HVAC, and for other needs. Although green power providers like solar and wind are the most ideal way to charge them, such home batteries could also take advantage of regular electricity supplies during cheaper, off-peak times, saving up that energy for when the household actually requires it.

According to SolarCity, we'll see more details around the solar roof in the coming months.

SOURCE SeekingAlpha