Tesla Rekindles Interest in Solar Roofing

Tesla Rekindles Interest in Solar Roofing

Enormous changes can happen at the last minute, and the solar roofing market is one of the most unlikely illustrations of this maxim. After Dow Chemical’s July 2016 announcement that it would cease production of its DowPowerhouse line of solar roofing due to a lack of sales, many speculated that the market might be on the verge of extinction. However, Tesla’s announcement one month later of its entrance to the market via an agreement to acquire SolarCity caused people to take a second look at the future of solar roofing. Indeed, Tesla’s moment in the sun was followed by a number of other high-profile rollouts:

  • The January 2017 introduction of DecoTech solar roofing by GAF Materials
  • The March 2017 launch of Forward Labs’ solar roofing product line
  • The October 2017 announcement by Real Goods Solar that it had acquired the manufacturing and distribution rights of Dow Powerhouse products from Dow Chemical

Solar Roofing Serves as Alternative to Traditional Products

Solar roofing – also known as building-integrated photovoltaics – is defined as a building product that:

  • serves as a structure’s primary roofing material
  • has integrated photovoltaic (PV) modules that generate electricity

Unlike the removable roof-mount solar panels with which consumers are more familiar, solar roofing products serve the dual function of protecting the interior of the home from the elements while also generating the electricity to power it. Solar roofing is usually more expensive than installing a roof made from traditional roofing materials and then erecting a solar array. However, solar roofing does also offer advantages, key among them being:

  • meeting the wind and impact resistance requirements of the notoriously strict Miami-Dade County building code
  • a widely-held perception that solar roofing is more attractive than a roof-mount solar panel
  • a one-step installation process that is faster than installing a roof and subsequently installing solar panels

Solar Roofing Provides “Green Benefits” in Multiple Ways

While serving as an attractive and functional roofing product, the key benefits of solar roofing are its “green” properties.  Solar roofing both:

  • generates electricity in an environmentally friendly manner
  • saves consumers money on their utility bills

The integrated PV modules of solar roofing have significant electrical generation capacities, with many products supplying a kiloWatt or more of electric power – without generating the carbon emissions that play a role in global climate change. In turn, consumers can use this electric power in their homes and businesses, store it in a battery, or – in many states – resell it back to a utility through net metering or net billing, receiving a credit on their utility bills.  When combined with the various federal and state tax incentives for installing solar products, solar roofing can over time provide savings that more than make for the initial high purchase and installation price.

Newly Installed Solar Roofs Provide Immediate Benefits

While the number of homeowners who have installed solar roofs is still fairly small, those who've made the leap are already seeing benefits. Additionally, their new energy-efficient roofing has elicited curiosity from others interested in installing solar roofing on their own homes. Indeed, as California moves to enact building code requirements that mandate the use of solar products to ensure homes meet zero net-energy standards, it is expected that solar roofing will see increasing use.

To Learn More

For more information about the US solar roofing market, check out Solar Roofing in the US, a new study from the Freedonia Group.

About the Author:

Matt Zielenski  is a Senior Analyst at the Freedonia Group, where he covers trends in the use of building materials and related construction products in the US market.