The Tesla and SolarCity marriage is real, as Elon Musk just revealed a new lineup of solar-electric roof tiles alongside an updated Tesla Powerwall energy storage pack, turning what was just your electric car into an entire electric lifestyle.
The theme of tonight’s presentation seemed to be, “well, you bought the bag, now you have to buy the shoes.” Elon Musk presented the small crowd of journalists packed into a fake Hollywood set neighborhood with houses modeling solar-tiled roofs powered by the updated Powerwall 2.0 storage packs with the full Tesla lineup of electric cars parked in the garages.
First up, the new Powerwall 2.0 can handle twice as much energy as the initial generation, with a 14kWh energy storage capacity and a 7kW power output. Musk claimed just one Powerwall 2.0 pack would be enough to supply the “fridge, sockets, and lights” in a four-bedroom house with energy for a day. If you tile the house with a solar roof, you can supply your own energy indefinitely.
The new Powerwalls will go into production next month and start selling in December.
Then, for the more industrial consumer, Tesla revealed the Powerpack 2.0, which has a 210kWh energy storage capacity with a 50kW power output.
Musk followed up the second-generation reveal to clarify that Tesla forsees a future requiring both local and utility solar-power generation, explaining that the Powerwall and Solar Roof set up would not be positioned as a competitor for larger utility power supply, but rather be required to work in-tandem due to increasing energy requirements.
If our cars, our homes and our cities switch over to electrified technologies, Musk claimed that our collective energy needs would increase three times over. Insert the Solar Roof, which would help carry some of the weight of these added energy needs.
Tesla and SolarCity’s new Solar Roof was demonstrated in three differentiated styles. A traditional, smooth looking roof design, a “french slate roof” textured design, and a terracotta style look. The solar cells are visible when looking at the tiles straight on perpendicularly, but disappear at an angle to hide the embedded solar cells in the glass from the perspective of people on the ground.
This maximizes the energy consumption of the cells from the sun, but keeps the traditional look for the people on the ground. The final glass technology should be a near-zero loss of energy through the glass into the cell. The demonstrations at the event were not functional.
Musk hoped that the Solar Roofs would be installed increasingly over time, claiming that four to five million homes either renovate or are built with a new roof in America every year. He claimed that number is 20 times greater internationally.
The ideal cost will be competitive with the cost of a traditional roof offset by the additional energy savings. The plan is to start installing the product on homes next summer with one or two styles, and then expand the options out. The roofs are expected to last much longer, perhaps “two to three times longer,” than traditional roof tiles. “Look at cathedrals. The roofs don’t last. The stained glass does”
To finish off, in typical Elon Musk style, he argued that the roofs look fantastic, why wouldn’t you go solar if the “neighborhood aesthetics get better”?
Musk didn’t comment on the proposed merger between Tesla and SolarCity, but did say that the purpose of the Solar Roof and the potential merger is eliminating conflicts of interest and developing a three-pronged electricity product lineup with perfect integration, or essentially an electric lifestyle.