Tesla in 2019 – What to expect – solar implications.

Tesla in 2019 – As the company rockets towards uncharted waters it’s very difficult to predict what Tesla will do in 2019. 

Tesla in 2019 – What to expect – solar implications?

Tesla in 2019 - Tesla Model Y (source: Tesla)
Tesla in 2019 – Tesla Model Y (source: Tesla)

Electrek are reporting that Tesla announced they are unveiling the Model Y solar car on March 14 – an ‘all-electric crossover based on the Model 3’. It’ll be announced in Los Angeles at Tesla Design Studio in Hawthrone, California. 

A shareholder’s letter released last month for Q4 2018 notes that ‘volume production’ of the Model Y should commence by the end of next year (and it’ll probably be done at Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Nevada).

“Additionally, this year we will start tooling for Model Y to achieve volume production by the end of 2020, most likely at Gigafactory 1.”

Tesla confirmed their plans for Model Y production at Gigafactory 3 in China at a ground-breaking ceremony back in February.

Although the Tesla electric cars aren’t necessarily to do with solar power per se, Tesla’s impending success or lack thereof relies fairly heavily on these devices. CEO Elon Musk needs the electric cars to succeed to ensure the company has enough money to work on its myriad other projects. They have a lot of competition from other manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz and Audi who will likely announce their electric automobiles this month.

Some concerns are the Model Y totally cannibalising the Model 3 sales – with the $35,000 Model 3 and the Model X now only available online to lower costs for the financially embattled company. Their shares fell almost 10% last Friday amidst the slew of announcements. 

With regards to solar, Tesla’s main projects are the Powerwall 2, the Tesla solar roof, the commercial scale solar battery storage Tesla Powerpack 2, and potentially the announcement of a Tesla Powerwall 3 release date. To be frank it’s a bit concerning to see all the blood in the water around Tesla right now – let’s cross our fingers for some great results in 2019 for the company. 

 

 

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GAF Energy to sell residential solar.

Standard Industries has announced it will launch a rooftop solar company named GAF Energy in the US – they are already the world’s largest roofing and waterproofing manufacturer.

GAF Energy Rooftop Solar

GAF Energy Decotech Rooftop Solar
GAF Energy Decotech Rooftop Solar (source: standardindustries.com/solar)

As per a post on the Standard Industries website, the new company, GAF Energy, will work together with GAF to offer their DecoTech® solar roofing solution to “everyday consumers”

It’s an interesting niche to walk into – GAF’s new product offering has some competitors in the PV integrated roof tiling space, such as the Tesla Solar Roof, Tractile Solar Roof Tiles, Monier Solartileor Sonnen/Bristile’s Solartile  These are all fantastic products but fairly expensive at this point in time – hopefully having more competition in the market leads to more competitive prices and more powerful roofs.

“GAF Energy capitalizes on the historic challenges facing the rooftop solar industry – acquisition and installation costs – and turns them into demonstrable strengths – making it easy for customers to say ‘yes’ to solar rooftops,” said Martin DeBono, President of GAF Energy. “Our product is smart, integrated and economical, and we hope it will mark a fundamental shift in rooftop solar adoption around the world.”

Rooftop solar in America is a lot less developed than in Australia – according to Renew Economy, only 3% of USA homes had solar panels installed in 2017 – in stark comparison to Australia’s 30%. As such there’s plenty of opportunity if the product and price is right, and the governments get on board to help. Will integrated solar roof tiles be the way forwards in the future for domestic solar? We’ll soon find out. In any case, it’s exciting to see 

For more information about GAF, visit www.gaf.energy. If you’d like to read the press release about launch of the company and new DecoTech solar roof, please click here

It shouldn’t be long before we have some more information about how these solar roofs are performing, and as the results trickle in we will be creating a solar roof tile comparison document for anyone interested in integrating solar panels into their roof. Please watch this space! Exciting days ahead for rooftop solar.

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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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