Tesla in Australia 2018/2019 – Facts & Figures

Tesla have announced their Q2 earnings which notes that they have a ‘crazy’ growth outlook despite cell shortage and a slow deployment of their solar roof. Tesla in Australia is still very far behind the USA, but what can we expect the future to bring?

Tesla in Australia – 2018/19

What can Australians expect from Tesla over the next financial year? We’ve had an agonisingly slow rollout down under and there are many people waiting to see how long it takes for the solar roof to make its way out here.

With the cell shortage that has crippled availability of the Tesla Powerwall 2 in Australia, is it worth waiting for the Powerwall 3 instead? There hasn’t been any announcement yet so it really depends on your personal situation. 

The Tesla Gigafactory in Buffalo, New York is in working on speeding up production of the Solar Roof. They hope to produce 1 GW of solar products at the site annually beginning in 2019, and Tesla has said that it could even reach 2 GW/year down the track. The Gigafactory produces standard solar panels, along with the Solar Roof.

So if you have a bit of patience and are happy to wait until 2019, it’s fine to wait. Solar batteries still have a bit of a ways to go before they are a no-brainer for people to install, let alone the solar roof. But in the meantime, there are certainly solar roof alternatives like the Tractile solar roof tile or the Sonnen/Bristile partnership which they’ve called ‘Solartile‘. Have you got any questions or any experience with any of these solar shingles? Please let us know in the comments. 

Where is the Tesla Solar Roof?

Tesla in Australia - Solar Roof via @Toblerhaus on Twitter
Tesla in Australia – Tesla Solar Roof 2018 Installation (California) (source: @Toblerhaus on Twitter)

We’ve written about the Tesla Solar Roof before – and we’ve also written about its place in the Australian ecosystem, given that they’re rare as hen’s teeth in America, let alone over here. According to PV Magazine USA, it’s probable that the Tesla Solar Roof will not help their bottom line (Energy Generation and Division Revenues) until halfway through 2019 at the earliest. The reasons for this are for safety and the time lag it’s taking to get all their ducks in a row.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk clarified:

“It takes a while to confirm that the Solar Roof is going to last for 30 years and all the details work out, and we’re working with first responders to make sure it’s safe in the event of a fire and that kind of thing. So it’s quite a long validation program for a roof which has got to last for 30, 40, 50 years, but we also expect to ramp that up next year at our Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo. That’s going to be super exciting.”

According to Musk ‘several hundred’ Solar Roofs have been deployed, are being installed or scheduled for install, and international expansion (i.e. Australia!) is slowly rolling out.

PV Magazine have also written about some of the first solar roof installations in the USA – please click here to read some more about them.

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Can you walk on solar panels? Solar panel durability.

Can you walk on solar panels? We could probably answer this article with one word – no. But let’s take a look at how walking on solar panels damages them – with cracks, damaged cells (which are impossible to see with the naked eye), and more. We’ll also investigate some of the most durable solar panels you can buy in 2018.

Can you walk on solar panels
Can you walk on solar panels? (source: SolarWorld USA via YouTube)

Can you walk on solar panels?

Still no. A running joke between colleagues in the solar industry is when a new ‘cowboy’ outfit comes to town with a bunch of flashy solar marketing – which involves pictures of installers blithely standing or crouching on top of a panel, potentially doing very serious damage to the efficacy of the system. And the fact that the damage compounds over time means it’s sometimes difficult to correlate the problem to find out what happened to make your solar system underperform…

When we talk about walking on solar panels, this doesn’t just mean the glass itself – you need to stay off the rails and frame as well. 

If you absolutely insist on a super-strength solar panel someone light could walk on, or you live somewhere with strong hail/wind/snow loads, SolarWorld have a Sunmodule which is extremely hard. View a video of its endurance here:

Tesla’s Solar Roof also has great durability and is an option for those needing a very strong solar panel. Note that we still recommend you don’t step on this, or any solar panel, unless you have to rescue an ailing baby bird or retrieve a pot of gold. They’re simply not made for it. 

NREL, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, have produced a video showing the invisible damage from walking on a solar panel.

According to the video, after a cell is cracked, its power output degenerates far more rapidly than usual (every solar panel’s output decreases with time). Temperature changes (like the difference between day and night, or different seasons) cause thermal expansions and contractions which pull apart the materials around the crack, exacerbating the problem. 

In short – please don’t walk on solar panels. 

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Hantile flexible solar tiles by Hanergy.

Chinese company Hanergy have released the latest generation of their flagship Hantile flexible solar roof tiles. They’re lighter, thinner, more flexible, and have increased performance from the previous generation. Let’s have a look at how they stack up against some of the other solar roof tiles on the market.

Hantile Flexible Solar Roof Tiles

Hanergy Hantile flexible solar tiles launch
Hanergy Hantile flexible solar tiles launch (source: hanergy.com)

The new Hantile uses a single instead of a double layer of glass. This has lowered the weight of each tile down to 5.2kg. The glass is ultra-white tempered so it is extremely durable and is able to deliver a transmittance level of 91.5%. According to the PR News wire, the single glass Hantile can generate power at temperatures ranging from -40 Celsius to -85 degrees. Their life cycle is 30 years and each tile uses copper indium gallium selenide solar cell (CIGS) with 17.52% efficiency. In terms of environmental friendliness, each 100 square metres of Hantile is equivalent to planting 340 trees. The tiles are backed by a lifetime warranty (30 years) and a lifetime charged maintenance guarantee.

“We’re delighted to introduce the next generation of our innovative Hantile building solution,” said Hanergy founder Mr. Li Hejun. “With its industry leading energy generation capabilities and suitability for any building, I am confident that Hantile will set a new benchmark for new energy applications in building construction.”

Hanergy

Hanergy is, according to their press release, the world’s largest clean energy company. They work with hydro-power, wind power, and solar power. Since 2009 they’ve been researching thin-film solar power and with their updated technology will be releasing solar roof tiles, foldable solar-paper power banks, solar backpacks for solar camping, BIPV, solar roads, and more. They have more than 16,000 staff members and have been in a bit of financial trouble recently with the SFC ordering them to pay outstanding debts to its subsidiaries, with the stock currently ceased trading on the Hong Kong market. Hopefully this new technology can help Hanergy get back on track. 

Hanergy Hantile vs Tesla Solar Roof

Hanergy Hantile Solar Tile
Hanergy Hantile Solar Tile (source: hanergy.com)

The Tesla Solar Roof has been talked about a lot over the past year, but there have been quite a few competitors sticking their hands up such as the Tractile solar roof tiles, which are a lot more price effective than Tesla’s offering. Hanergy’s new Hantile don’t currently have a price for Australian install, but it looks like the ‘c-type slot structure’ they used for manufacturing mean it will be quite easy to install them. The previous Hantiles, launched in 2017, had a conversion efficiency rate of 16.5% and it now boasts 17.52% conversion rate. 

The price of last year’s triple arch solar tile was 130 yuan ($~285 AUD)/ m2 so it’ll be interesting to see what the new tile costs. We’ve reached out to Hanergy for comment and will let you know as soon as we have more information. We’ll be looking for reviews, price, release dates, and more! 

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Monier SolarTile – Solar Tiles Australia

There’s plenty going on in the world of solar roof tiles this year – today we’re going to take a look at the Monier SolarTile, which is a competing against the Tesla Solar Roof and the sonnen/Bristile Roofing Solartile.

Monier SOLARtile

Monier SolarTILE
Monier SolarTILE (source: monier.com.au)

The Monier SOLARTile is an integrated modular photovoltaic flat tile system. They integrate with a flat profiled roof so they won’t ruin the view of your house – and can be installed on all types of roofs (including traditional and period style homes). If you’d prefer, you can retrofit them for a re-roof, extension, or home renovation. Their modular design means that you can install them in any configuration – including smaller sections of your roof (generally north facing) to reach optimal energy production. Since they have an integrated design (as opposed to conventional ‘bolt-on’ solar panels, the SOLARtiles will blend into a roofline smoothly. 

Monier were a finalist in the Clean Energy Council’s ‘Solar Designs & Installations Awards’ in 2013 for this product – they were also a finalist in BPN’s Sustainability Awards in 2013. The company is backed by CSR, one of Australia and New Zealand’s biggest building product companies. 

They’re currently available and are being installed on homes in Australia – and in lieu of any case studies, let’s see how it stacks up against the Tesla solar tiles:

Monier SolarTile vs Tesla Solar Roof

Monier SolarTile:

  • Available? – Available in Australia right now! 
  • Grid? – Must be grid connected.
  • Upgradeable? – Yes – provided your inverter has the capacity.
  • Warranty? 25 Year Performance Guarantee – guaranteed to be working at 82.5% of original capacity in year 25.  
  • STCs? Monier can handle this for you or you’re welcome to sell them yourself. 
  • Installation? Licenced roofers and CEC accredited electricians. 

Tesla Solar Roof:

  • Available? No – the Tesla Solar Roof release date in Australia should be sometime in 2018.
  • Grid?  No official word as yet, but these should integrate with Tesla Powerwall 2 batteries to offer an off-grid solution.
  • Upgradeable? Yes, can replace Tesla ‘non solar’ tiles (a Tesla roof will generally have around 40% solar generating tiles) with solar tiles.
  • Warranty? “Infinite”, according to Elon Musk, but this only applies to the glass the tiles are made from, not their ability to produce electricity or actually function as a roof. 30 year warranty for those.
  • STCs? Unconfirmed, question has been Tweeted to Elon Musk by @awbow22

We’ve reached out to Monier for some more information about the Solartile and will update this article as soon as we have more. In the meantime, if you want solar tiles on your roof and don’t want to wait, it remains a great product backed by an Australian giant! If you have any experience with the Monier SOLARtile we’d love to hear about it – please leave your thoughts in the comments! 

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Tractile solar roof tiles global rollout!

Australian company Trac Group have released their Tractile solar roof tiles locally and are now preparing for a global rollout of their Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) product.

About Tractile Solar Roof Tiles

The Tractile solar tiles use the Roof Integrated Photovoltaic and Thermal (RIPV-T) system, which, according to the Tractile site, is an “exciting new technology which merges photovoltaic (PV) and thermal systems, simultaneously providing both electric and thermal energy”. This means the system is able to greatly increase performance in hot conditions due to the thermal energy generation cooling the PV cells – leading to more energy generated per square metre when compared with conventional PV panels and solar thermal collectors.

The solar roof tiles come in 4 different types:

  • Eclipse Roof Tile – a ‘normal’ superstrong roof tile you use in parts of the roof that aren’t north facing/receiving strong daily sunlight.
  • Eclipse Solar Roof Tile – electricity and solar boosted hot water generating tiles. Cost effective, lightweight, aesthetically pleasing and increased PV output (compared to conventional PV systems)
  • Eclipse Thermo Roof Tile – interlock with Eclipse roof tiles and Eclipse Solar roof tiles to maximise solar heated hot water output.
  • Horizon Roof Tile – electricity and solar boosted hot water generating tiles to merge into new or existing concrete tiled roof.

The tiles integrate four key elements into one product:

  • Roof system
  • Photovoltaic (PV) cells
  • Solar thermal collector
  • Insulation

Tractile vs. Tesla Solar Roof

Trac Group managing director Jason Perkins has been quoted on the impending release of the Tesla Solar Roof saying it will increase Tractile sales, saying: “It’s fair to say that when you compare the Tractile Solar Roof tiles with the Tesla products, the Tesla products are simply left in the shade”. “Regardless of whether it’s the price of the roof, the weight of the roof, the amount of electricity and hot water it produces per square metre or the options for the roof lines, our products compare very favourably.”

The Tractile site has this comparison image which shows the Tractile very competitively priced for what you get:

Tractile Solar Roof vs. Tesla Solar Roof
Tractile Solar Roof vs. Tesla Solar Roof (source: tractile.com.au)

Tesla Solar Roof Alternatives

While we wait for the Australian release date for the Tesla Solar Roof, there are some alternatives.

German company Sonnen have partnered with Bristile Roofing to offer the Solartile, which is looking quite interesting.

Obviously we also have the Tractile Solar Roof Tile, which is available from their website by clicking here, or call their Australian support line on 1300 00TRAC. If you want to learn more about the Tractile they have a ‘downloads’ section on their website which as a Tractile Eclipse product specification, benefits, roof config options, introduction brochure, and much more.

View this video below to see how strong the Tactile roof tiles are in comparison to conventional roofs!

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