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The Tesla Solar Roof: A Good Option for Albertans?

Back in January we wrote about how Alberta is a great place for solar power generation. With the recent unveiling of the Tesla Solar Roof, we thought we would revisit the subject of rooftop solar and discuss whether or not rooftop solar – and the Tesla Solar Roof in particular – is a viable option for Albertans looking to generate their own power.

A Brief Recap of the Solar Conversation

Effective solar generation requires a few things:

  • Sun – Shocked? Without sunlight there can be no power generated. Remember, solar doesn’t generate power from heat, but rather by using the specific wavelengths of light present in sunlight to stimulate photovoltaic cells. No sun, no solar power.
  • The right angle – So, you’ve got sunlight but are unable to align your panels in such a way so as to make use of it? No solar power for you…
  • An effective solar capture setup – AKA, solar panels on your roof.

With those things in place, we can now look at solar power as a viable model for electrical production.

Tesla Enters the Ring With Their Solar Roof

First things first, we need to acknowledge the cool factor inherent in Tesla’s solution. Creating a solar panel that looks, feels, and functions like a traditional shingle isn’t just a good idea, but arguably necessary for the mass adoption of residential rooftop solar. Of course, there’s also the “Elon Musk” factor; there’s undeniable sex appeal baked into the product, especially when it’s paired with Tesla’s Powerwall.

Of Course, Like Every Tesla Product to Date, The Solar Roof Has a Problem: Price

Oof, this is a hard pill to swallow. As innovators in net-zero homes, and as proponents of the idea that your home and lifestyle doesn’t have to be at odds with the environment, we want the rapid adoption of technologies like the Tesla Solar Roof. We want consumers to want them, because we know that a higher adoption rate of such technologies ultimately benefit all of us (and drive down costs).

However, we also know that the cost of such adoption must be realistic and attainable. Unfortunately, for 99% of Canadians, the solar roof is simply too expensive.

How expensive are we talking? According to this Forbes article published May 16, the average homeowner can expect a total cost of a Solar Roof/Powerwall combination to land at around $43,700 USD (about $59,000 CAD).

SIXTY GRAND. Oof.

At today’s average cost of 7 cents per kilowatt hour, your home would have to generate an absolutely insane amount of power – and sell it back to the grid – for such an investment to make sense.

There’s Another Problem, Too: Alternative Rooftop Solar Options Cost Less. Much Less.

The cost of the Belgravia Green rooftop solar setup has dropped by more than half from when we built it in 2012. That’s a tremendous decrease in cost in a short period of time. In addition, the technology has performed extremely well, so well in fact, that it has generated surplus of over 14,000 kWh over the last three years.

Granted, the Belgravia Green doesn’t utilize any kind of energy storage (such as the Powerwall), but most Edmontonians – nay, most Canadians – don’t stand to benefit from such storage (yet). In fact, remaining tied to the grid is ideal for most homeowners- excess power can be sold back to the grid, and your home can draw from the grid when solar generation fails to meet your energy needs.

Currently, We Do Not Recommend Canadians Invest in the Tesla Solar Roof

Allow us to be quite clear here: we want this technology, and technologies like it, to succeed in the market. However, even with an “infinite warranty”, and even though the Solar Roof doubles as a roof (meaning you’ll never need to re-roof your home), the value proposition offered by the Solar Roof simply isn’t competitive with other options available today.

For somewhere around $10,000 you can place a 2.5 kW solar setup on your home (note: pricing and capacity are based on what is available today; this will change over time, and rapidly so). Spend $20,000 and you can install a solar setup capable of generating as much as 7 kW.

And that’s today’s technology– imagine what tomorrow’s will be capable of.