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Elon Musk, Tesla CEO and SolarCity chairman recently unveiled a new type of roofing tiles, which are also solar panels. It’s no secret that the Tesla company is rapidly developing new ways of establishing a more sustainable future, and these roofing tiles are a great idea. They would be used to cover a roof just like regular tiles, and thereby incorporate solar energy harvesting potential directly into any home without the need to spend money on and install a separate solar power array.

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These solar tiles are made of glass and come in many different styles, including textured tiles, French slate, flat modern and Tuscan style curved roof tiles. Every tile appears opaque when looking at it from ground level, so the solar cells inside it would only be visible from the air.

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The main goal of this project was to develop rooftop solar arrays, which would be more aesthetically pleasing than currently available ones. And by having the solar panels also act as roofing tiles, the whole system would also be much more affordable than currently available solutions. The tiles they created in some cases look even nicer than regular ones, while they also last longer, provide better insulation and, according to Musk, “Have an installed cost that is less than a normal roof plus the cost of electricity.”

Tiles made of glass might not sound very durable, but they tested their durability by dropping a weight onto a roof covered in them from above. The tiles did not shatter as traditional roofing tiles do in such a test, but only cracked. They did not yet announce the price of these tiles, or their energy generation and insulation value. But it is a project well worth following as it goes forward.

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Apart from introducing these new solar roof tiles, Tesla also announced the second generation of their Powerwall battery. The so-called Powerwall 2 is basically a battery pack, which is capable of providing 14 kWh of storage. This is enough to provide sufficient power for everything needed in a four-bedroom home for a day. Hooked up to a rooftop mounted solar system, it could in theory be used to power a home for quite a long time. The Powerwall 2 costs $5,500 and they will begin taking orders for it soon. Its development is a joint effort between Tesla and SolarCity.