Solar Roofs to be Part of SolarCity

August 11, 2016 by Jeff Shepard

SolarCity has announced plans to add solar roofs to its offering. During a recent earnings conference call, the company called solar roofs, "a fundamental part of achieving a differentiated product strategy."

"It's not a beautiful roof, it is a solar roof, it's not a thing on a roof, it is the roof,” stated Chairman Elon Musk. There are 5 million new roofs installed annually in the U.S. and SolarCity wants to capture part of that market.

“If your roof is nearing end-of-life, you definitely don't want to put solar panels on it, because you're going to have to replace the roof. So, there is a huge market segment that is currently inaccessible to SolarCity, because people know they're going to have to replace their roof, you don't want to put solar panels on top of a roof you're going to replace,” observed Musk.

“However, if you are close – if your roof is nearing end-of-life, well, you've got to get a new roof anyway. Why not have a solar roof that's better in many others ways as well. We don't want to show all of our cards right now, but I think people are going to be really excited about what they see. And the cool thing is that it doesn't cannibalize the existing business, because you got two classes of customers,” Musk continued.

SolarCity also implied that it is looking into offer demand response services and possibly virtual power plant services to local utilities. “You really can't go beyond a certain percentage of solar in a particular neighborhood. You can – maybe you can go up to about 20% solar, but more than that, it starts to unbalance the grid,” Musk observed.

“Beyond about 20% it gets very difficult to balance the power distribution in the grid, and then you really have to have the batteries to scale ultimately to a 100%. And closely, long-term it's totally logical we have to have sustainable energy across the board, or by definition it would be unsustainable. So, just looking at from a macro standpoint that you have to have a large number of batteries combined with a lot of solar,” Musk concluded.