Technology

LOS ANGELES – Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has unveiled roof tiles with built-in solar panels, taking solar paneling to a next level.

The tiles, made from glass, are intended to be a more attractive way to add solar panels to homes, compared with currently-used solar technology.

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The launch took place in Universal Studios, Los Angeles, on what used to be the set for the television show Desperate Housewives, the BBC reported.

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The solar roofing comes in four distinct styles that Tesla presented at the event, including “Textured Glass Tile,” “Slate Glass Tile,” “Tuscan Glass Tile, and “Smooth Glass Tile.”

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Each of these achieves a different aesthetic look, but all resembled fairly closely a current roofing material style. Each is also transparent to solar, but appears opaque when viewed from an angle.

The current versions of the tiles actually have a two percent loss on efficiency, so 98 percent of what you’d normally get from a traditional solar panel, according to Elon Musk.

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But the company is working with 3M on improved coatings that have the potential to possibly go above normal efficiency, since it could trap the light within, leading to it bouncing around and resulting in less energy loss overall before it’s fully diffused.

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Of course, there’s the matter of price: Tesla’s roof cost less than the full cost of a roof and electricity will be competitive or better than the cost of a traditional roof combined with the cost of electricity from the grid, Musk said.

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Tesla declined to provide specific pricing at the moment, since it will depend on a number of factor including installation specifics on a per home basis.

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Also part of the launch was Powerwall 2, Tesla’s home battery product. The primary function of the Powerwall is to store any surplus energy from the solar panels. It will cost $5,500 (£4,511), Mr Musk said.