Elon Musk unveils integrated solar roof

Tesla Motors chief executive Elon Musk has unveiled an integrated photovoltaic roofing tile that he says would allow a house to generate its own power without solar arrays bolted on.

A joint venture between Tesla and SolarCity, in which the billionaire entrepreneur is the biggest shareholder, the Solar Roof tile consists of a tempered glass panel, a "high-efficiency" solar cell, and a coloured louver film.

The tiles come in four styles, including ones that mimic Tuscan clay and slate, and are tough enough to withstand a dropped one-pound steel ball.

"This is sort of the integrated future. An electric car, a Powerwall and a solar roof," Musk said to an audience while unveiling Solar Roofs installed on film-set houses at Universal Studios in Los Angeles on 28 October.

"The key is it needs to be beautiful, affordable and seamlessly integrated," he added. (Watch a video of the unveiling here.)

Powerwall is Tesla Motor’s wall-mounted home battery.

With Solar Roof, the Tesla/SolarCity venture is hoping to succeed where others have failed.

In July this year Dow Chemical stopped making its solar roof tile, called Powerhouse, four years after starting production at a factory in Midland, Michigan.

The idea is to capture the market in roof replacements in the US. SolarCity co-founder Peter Rive, who is also Musk’s first cousin, said the Solar Roofs could "easily have a five percent share of the new roof market within a year or two", reported Reuters.

Musk did not reveal the cost of the tiles but said re-roofing with his Solar Roof would cost less than a conventional roof plus solar array.

Image: Render of a house with the Tesla/SolarCity Solar Roof (SolarCity)

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