Asphalt shingles can need replacing every 12 to 20 years or so, but Elon Musk is promising solar roofing that may not require replacement as frequently.
“It’s not something on the roof — it is the roof,” Musk told a group of Wall Street analysts during a call last week. “Which is a quite difficult engineering challenge and not something that is available anywhere else.”
Despite Musk’s claims, the fact is that solar roofs have been around for more than a decade, although it’s true that they pose somewhat of an engineering challenge.
Most of the reason for the challenge is that nobody has been able to produce photovoltaic construction materials that are cheaper than installing a roof and putting solar panels on it and more efficient at generating electricity than traditional solar panels.
Not only that, but solar panels and roofs are designed to do two very different things.
While solar panels are designed specifically to generate electricity and absorb as much sunlight as possible to do so, roofs are designed to protect a home from the elements.
Unfortunately, even the best roofs sometimes can’t stand up to the severe weather that’s been plaguing the U.S. this summer.
Louisiana, in particular, is suffering from severe weather this week.
Louisiana has been hit by a seemingly unending torrent of rainfall since last week, with at least six people dead and thousands of homes damaged by record-setting floods.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said officials “won’t know the death toll for sure for several more days.”
President Obama has even declared a state of disaster for the state, freeing up federal aid to support recovery efforts in affected areas.
“It’s not over,” Edwards warned. “The water’s going to rise in many areas. It’s no time to let the guard down.”
Approximately 20,000 people have been rescued from the rising flood waters, and nearly 12,000 remain in shelters as of Sunday night.
“Everybody is just tired and nervous and wanting to see what kind of damage they have to their home,” said Rachel Fitzpatrick, a Louisiana resident.
If Elon Musk wants to create solar roofing, the materials they engineer need to be able to withstand Louisiana-level deluges like the one plaguing vast areas of the state.
However, Tesla’s solar roofing is only an announcement at this stage and is not available for purchase. Solar City claims that its solar shingles could last upwards of 30 years when they become available for purchase.