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.