To Elon Musk it seems obvious: the future of energy is in solar.
The CEO of Tesla repeated this sentiment multiple times at a press event on Friday at Universal Studios, where he gave customers the first look at an integrated solar roofing solution that will combine Tesla and SolarCity technologies.
"[I'm] quite confident [that] over time, if it's done right, every roof will be solar," Musk said.
Surrounded on both sides by Hollywood sets, familiar to people from shows like the Desperate Housewives, Musk, along with executives from SolarCity, revealed the look of the solar roofs, which he promises will be more efficient and last longer than conventional roof tiles.
To the surprise of everyone gathered on the Universal lot, each of the four set homes had been outfitted with solar roofs, which are made up of glass tiles that are embedded with solar cells. They had been redone over the course of two weeks, and according to Musk, will probably be functional enough to run.
From the street it's hard to tell that these are solar roofs at all, since panels tend to be bulky and unsightly. However, the roofs—which will be installed by Tesla and SolarCity starting in the summer of next year—come in four different styles (Textured Glass Tile, Slate Glass Tile, Tuscan Glass Tile, and Smooth Glass Tile). They were designed, according to Musk, with aesthetics as a priority. It was important to make solar roofs as "appealing as electric cars," he said, which was one of the concerns surrounding the commercial viability of the product.
During the day, the tiles will collect sunlight and store the energy inside the Powerwall 2, the latest generation of the product, which was also on display at the event. The Powerwall is a lithium-ion battery for homes that can consume power and store it in case of emergency and when the sun isn't shining. The Powerwalls can be mounted on walls and could potentially replace generators in a few decades.
In a blog post released before the event, Tesla unveiled new details for the Powerpack 2, which will provide twice the energy density and include a more seamless integration of the batteries, power electronics, thermal management, and controls included in the grid for use in businesses.
Millions of Americans will get a new roof in a year. In a few decades, Musk hopes that 90 percent of all roofs will be equipped to capture solar power. With the combination of the Powerpack, the Powerwall, and the solar roof, Musk hopes that more people will be solar friendly than will own a Tesla electric car.
"It'll be incredibly odd to have a roof that doesn't generate energy in the future," he said.
The new roofs promise to be efficient, environmentally friendly (Musk said that he hopes the technology can in fact improve the efficiency of the solar cells), and cost-efficient. Officials didn't provide exact numbers for how long they would last, but Musk said that the solar cells are expected to last longer than the house.