Solar Builder

SEP-OCT 2017

Solar Builder focuses on the installation/construction of solar PV systems. We cover the latest PV technology (modules, mounting, inverters, storage, BOS) and equip installers/contractors with tips and tools to make informed purchasing decisions.

Issue link: http://digital.solarbuildermag.com/i/865446

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SOLARBUILDERMAG.COM | 25 YOU DOWN WITH BIPV? This is the part of the modules section when we throw an obligatory mention to Tesla and its new, mys- terious Solar Roof. Building-integrated PV tiles are not new, but like the cool kid who started wearing bell bot- toms to school, Elon Musk has made them trendy again. Any casual conversation I have about the solar industry outside the office always leads to the layperson asking about Tesla's Solar Roof. So, word is out. The buzz for the industry is certainly a good thing, but those everyday homeowners might not get the best bang for their buck going with the Tesla Solar Roof. Online solar marketplace EnergySage ran numbers on comparative systems for a 3,000-sq-ft home in Southern California with a $200 monthly electric bill, as an example, and the results speak for themselves: Standard PV system: $26,030; 13,000 kWh annu- al production Tesla Solar Roof: $50,900; 10,000 kWh annual production The real hook of the solar roof is how it replaces the roof itself. But if you add in a $20,000 cost for a roof replacement as EnergySage did (based on a Consumer Reports estimate of such a job for that house size), the non-solar roof is still a better value. Put more simply, GTM Research determined that Tesla Solar Roofs produce about 6 watts per square foot, whereas a high-efficiency module would produce 19 watts per square foot. There is also a potential hang up with applying for ITC credits because not all of the shingles being installed will be solar shingles. Anyway, we wouldn't bet against Tesla making this concept happen as the costs become more competitive over time, but a bit more quietly, Palo Alto-based startup Forward Labs entered this space at the same time as Tesla, claiming to be 33 percent cheaper, more efficient and easier to install — 19 watts per square foot of energy density at about $3.25 per watt, installed in two to three days. "The way we achieved such fantastic cost savings was fairly simple," Zach Taylor, CEO and product architect of Forward Labs. "We use more affordable materials than our competitors and employ standard manufacturing processes. The roof 's installation pro- cess is simple and quick — we can install our system in half the time that other companies can. The benefit to homeowners is a return on their investment that cuts the usual solar payback time in half."

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