Category: <span>Solar</span>

But will it leak? An interesting look at installing a new Tesla roof

By Karen L. Edwards.

California homeowner Kyle Field’s house burned in 2017 and for the rebuild, he knew that he wanted to install Tesla’s Solarglass Roof.

To start the process, Kyle made a $1,000 deposit to reserve the roof and was excited to learn that he had been accepted into the pilot for Tesla’s new home program.  His home became one of the first new-construction homes to receive the Solarglass version 2 roof.

Kyle works for CleanTechnica, a clean energy website that reports news, reviews and analysis related to the clean tech industry, so he was very interested in documenting the entire process from start to finish. He does acknowledge that Tesla’s newer version 3 is larger and easier to manufacture and install.   He and his builder worked directly with Tesla to scope the system. What is unique about the tiles is that Tesla is able to scale the system up or down by the number of photovoltaic tiles used. To scale down, they simply use non-producing glass tiles.

The Tesla project leader for Kyle’s installation worked directly with his builder to coordinate the installation timing and to communicate what their electrical needs were. Because Kyle chose not to have natural gas in the home, he wanted to get as much output from the system as possible. Solar tiles were installed on the north-, south-, east, and west-facing roof planes, not an ideal way to maximize production but for his situation it made sense.

His home has two stories, so the upper roof was installed several weeks ahead of the lower roof. Once the stucco is installed on the house, the Tesla team will return to finish the installation, connect inverters and install the Tesla Powerwalls that store the energy.

While the upper roof was being installed, Kyle got onto the roof to record a video of the installation. He shows up-close footage of the Solarglass tiles with the PV and the ones without as well as shares a look at how the tiles are attached.

Tesla believes that its Solarglass Roof is cheaper than the cost of a regular roof plus the cost of energy over a span of 25 years. But the question remains – how well will it perform when it comes to protecting the home from the elements?

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Source: RoofersCoffeeShop.

Image Credit: Chuck Field

Is it finally time for solar?

By Heidi J. Ellsworth, RCS Partner.

Martin DeBono, president of GAF Energy, shares insights on the future of roofing and solar.

For most of my career in roofing, I have been the one who was excited about solar rooftops. But more often than not, I was a bit disappointed that the roofing industry did not out and out own the solar market and make every roof a power source. But it may have not been the right time for it even five years ago. The discussion of who owns the roof when it comes to solar has been debated by roofers, electricians and most of all the solar companies. But every roofing contractor I talk to knows that the roofing professional needs to own the whole roof, but how do we do it?

So, when I had the chance to interview the president of the newly formed GAF Energy, Martin DeBono, I have to say, I was really excited to hear what he had to say.  How was GAF going to make this change in the market?  I knew that GAF has had solar products for the last five years but how was the creation of GAF Energy with Martin DeBono at the helm going to change the market?

Starting out, I wanted to understand more about Martin DeBono.  I found out that he has been working and active in the solar market since 2013 with SunPower Corporation.  He brings a wealth of knowledge about the solar market and also shared that he has been working with one type of contractor or another for fifteen years.  A veteran of the Navy where he was a submarine officer, he has worked with resellers and contractors in several industries.  He believes that success is accomplished when you really understand how to work with partners in order to bring products to market.

In fact, that was one of the key motivations in the formation of GAF Energy.  Standard Industries who owns GAF and now GAF Energy company, saw a future where solar rooftop sales and installation is owned by the roofing contractor.  They knew they needed to take the steps to create a company that would focus on this mission, GAF Energy.  “These two companies are the confluence between roofing and solar,” stated DeBono.  “There is no doubt that in the future, all roofs will have the capability to produce energy.  GAF’s huge network of contractors opens up mass opportunity for roofing contractors to sell and install solar solutions.  The roofing industry is twenty times larger than today’s solar industry.  The opportunity to bring the GAF network and solar technology together is what drew me to GAF Energy.”

Sharing my past experiences of watching solar come and go in roofing, I asked how it might be different this time.  “The experience I had with SunPower of bringing products to market with the right channels is the key,” noted DeBono.  “If you want to sell solar you have to understand how roofing contractors operate.  Everyone who has worked on solar in the past focused on just the product.  We understand at GAF Energy that we need to focus on product and service.  Roofing contractors are great with roof installations but for the most part do not understand the solar elements, inverters, etc.  If the roofing company does not want to handle the electrical, GAF Energy will coordinate that with the contractor and the customer.  By having everyone do what they are good at GAF Energy provides the products and processes that work.  Customers get solar and lower electricity bills while the roofing contractors get to sell and install more roofs that include solar solutions.”

But really the big question that always needs to be answered is “What is in it for the roofing contractor?”  DeBono continued, “Homeowners want solar and the roofing contractors want to sell and install roofing.  We offer training for roofing contractors to not only install solar but sell it too.  That is really where we are focused, on the training.  We have training teams that work with the contractors to make them comfortable selling solar.  The best time to get solar on the roof is when you are reroofing but a large number of solar arrays are going on over existing roofs and often, they are installed incorrectly.  We believe that the solar array needs to be a part of the re-roofing sell, helping the contractor diversify their company, be more profitable and offer new skills and opportunities for their employees.”

“We also help the contractors with all the services around solar that have been confusing in the past including permitting and financing,” continued DeBono.  “We provide all the solar permitting in one package that can simply be dropped off with the local permit authority.  Once the contractor has the permit, GAF Energy trainers go with the roofing crew on the roof and train them on how to install the solar panels.  Then GAF Energy helps finish the installation by sending out an electrician to connect the array to the electrical panel.  No one in the past has taken the time to train the crews while explaining the benefits to ownership on how they can get more margin per roof.  We are finding that both the ownership and the crews are benefiting from this model.”

I also asked about the tax benefits.  It has always been a confusing aspect for both roofing contractors and homeowners.  “We are providing all the information on federal tax incentives and the training on how to actually get the tax credits,” noted DeBono.  “Many states have specific tax breaks for customers, GAF Energy works with the contractor so they can educate the homeowner.  In fact, we are also helping in the sales process with training for the roofing company’s sales team.  Our trainers go into the home with the salesperson and trains them through example.  The training includes how to talk about tax benefits, energy savings, lower electrical bills and how to make it an easy decision for the homeowner.  The trainers continue to work with roofing company’s sales team for however long it takes to close solar with the as part of the new roof installation.  We have developed sales kits to help contractors sell along with training in the classroom, at the home and in the office.  We are committed to offering the materials and training they need to make it happen to sell and install solar.”

And the most important question, how is it working so far and what are they seeing with solar adoption by the roofing contractors?  “Contractors are saying “Finally” and the adoption of the program by contractors is beyond what we expected,” confirmed DeBono.  “They love the services that enable them to sell and install solar without needing to be experts on solar design and connection.  They are seeing that they can rely on us for services or they can take it in house with their own estimators and electricians someday.  There does not need to be a conflict between solar and roofing because they can do both now.  It is right for the customer, the business and the environment.  It is just a good thing for them to do.”

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Solar installations in the U.S. hit 2 million mark

By Karen L. Edwards, RCS Editor.

Solar in the U.S. is on the rise with installations expected to double again by 2023. A new report shows that there are now two million solar installations in the U.S. The two million number was reached only three years after the installations first reached 1 million, a number that took 40 years to reach.

The report and numbers were release by Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA). The number of installations in the U.S. is expected to double to four million in just four years, reaching that number by 2023. “We believe that the 2020s will be the decade that solar becomes the dominant new form of energy generation,” SEIA CEO Abigail Ross-Hopper said in the statement.

According to Reuters, solar has grown in popularity due to falling prices on the technology, state mandates that require energy companies to source larger amounts of renewable energy and federal tax credits that can be worth up to 30 percent of the cost of the system.

Solar installations in the U.S. can now produce enough electricity to power more than 12 million homes according to the SEIA statement. California was responsible for 51 percent of the first million installations and 43 percent of the second million. Other states that helped to drive the growth include Texas, Rhode Island, Florida, Utah and Maryland, which combined have grown from around 50,000 installations to more than 200,000.

The statement reports that “Looking ahead, Illinois will see cumulative installations increase from 4,000 today to nearly 100,000 by 2024. While California will continue to lead the nation in installations, the remaining top 10 state markets will see faster growth. Nearly 750,000 installations are expected in those markets over the next 5 years, compared to 500,000 installations over the last 5 years.”

“According to our latest forecasts, by 2024 there will be, on average, one solar installation per minute,” said Michelle Davis, senior solar analyst at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, in a May 9 statement. “That’s up from one installation every 10 minutes in 2010.”

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Photo credit: SEIA.

Source: RoofersCoffeeShop.

Tesla Patent for Colored Solar Tiles

By Karen L. Edwards, RCS Editor.

The Tesla patent is for ‘Uniformly and Directionally Colored Photovoltaic Modules.” In the patent, they explain that traditionally the color of the panels is the natural color of the solar cells embedded inside, which is usually blue, dark blue or black.

Most homeowners want to select the color of their roof, so that it complements the rest of their home. Existing methods to color the tiles, such as applying tinted glass or color encapsulation sheets can absorb a lot of sunlight and cause the PV system to perform poorly. These methods may cause the tiles to suffer from sparkle, glint or angle-dependent color. They also degrade over time, resulting in an unpleasant appearance.
Tesla’s patent states that it will produce PV roof tiles with a uniform color with little light absorption. Their method will consist of texturizing the inside surface of a glass cover and a transparent material that has a predetermined refractive index. Spherical, metal nanoparticles positioned on the inside surface can produce colors without absorbing much light.

As Tesla stated in their Q2 2017 report, “Adopting solar has historically required a degree of aesthetic compromise, but Solar Roof provides clean energy from a better-looking roof.” They are taking the aesthetics one step further and will be able to offer homeowners even more color choices.
While the company didn’t say where the new tiles would be manufactured, it most likely will be at the company’s Gigafactory2, a 1.2 million square foot facility located in Buffalo, New York. The company began manufacturing there in late 2017 and employs 800 workers to date. Their agreement with the state of New York requires them to increase that to 5,000 employers over the course of the next ten years.

Photo: Tesla

Source: RoofersCoffeeShop