Tesla, SpaceX CEO to Innovate Solar Energy Business with Solar Roofs

Elon Musk plans to reveal new product by the end of the year

Tesla, SpaceX CEO to Innovate Solar Energy Business with Solar Roofs
Image: Pexels
August 10, 2016

Move over, Google. Elon Musk has announced his intentions to provide the latest innovation in sun-powered energy savings: solar roofs.

He is not talking about putting solar panels on existing roofs; he is talking about integrating solar technology into roof shingles.

"It's a solar roof, as opposed to modules on a roof," said Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, during a conference call on Tuesday about second quarter earnings for SolarCity, which Tesla is in the process of buying. "I think this is really a fundamental part of achieving differentiated product strategy, where you have a beautiful roof. It's not a thing on the roof. It is the roof, which is a quite difficult engineering challenge and not something that is available anywhere else."

The news was confirmed by SolarCity's CEO, Lyndon Rive, who is Musk's cousin. According to Rive, the product will be integrated mainly into new roofs, of which five million are installed annually in the U.S. alone.

Musk believes the new product will not impinge on SolarCity's current solar energy offering but will actually service an entirely different market, one that SolarCity cannot reach on its own.

"So there [is a] huge market that is sort of inaccessible to SolarCity because people know they are going to have to replace the roof and you don't want to put solar panels on a roof you know you are going to replace," he said. "However, if your roof is nearing end of life and you have to get a new roof anyway...so why not have a solar roof that is better in many other ways as well?"

Musk plans for roof customers to be able to be provided with custom preferences that will then be assembled into a kit and sent to the customer for installation.

All of this assumes that the merger of the two companies is approved by shareholders, which CNNMoney reports is far from a done deal.

Musk, however, is determined.

"We need an integrated product," he told CNN. "I think SolarCity has a great future independent of Tesla... but being able to integrate things....it makes things easier, not harder."