New solar roof tiles
Living in Austin I tend to see more than your average amount of solar panels. Not only do we get a lot of sunshine here (and I mean A LOT), but people here are really into getting their energy in an ecologically friendly way. I know solar energy isn’t quite there yet (by “there” I mean “sustainable” and “affordable” to the average person), but I try to pay attention to the advances so one day, when I’ve finally achieved the “dream” of home ownership, I’ll have a good idea of how to make my own house close to the ideal zero carbon foot print.
And the other day I found this:
A company called SRS Energy has partnered with US Tile, a leading manufacturer of Spanish, slate and shake roof tiles, to design solar panels with the exact shapes of their clay counterparts.
The idea is that more people will likely integrate solar paneling into their roofs if it is more aesthetically appealing. Good idea. Solar panels are kinda fugly, not that it ever bothered ME any. I’m more of a “greater good” kinda person.
But builders and designers obviously take aesthetics into consideration (especially when people are spending the kind of money you would have to spend on a house like the one in this photo) and I think this is an excellent practical solution. And I have to say I think it looks pretty damn good. Hopefully we don’t all have to own million dollar homes in order to get solar tiles. But I guess they have to start somewhere.
The US Tile’s Solé Power Tile system will begin to be installed in homes this November by contractors that have taken the company’s Solé certification class.
The current incarnation of these tiles are said to be able to convert 8-10% of the sun’s energy into electricity. That’s a little behind the 20% that traditional solar panels are capable of, unfortunately, but a representative from SRS energy claims the overall efficiency of the system makes up for the difference. I hope that is true.
I yearn for the day that photovotaic cells can outproduce the amount of energy it takes to make and ship them, and do it at an affordable price in a reasonable amount of time. Hopefully this initiative will help achieve that goal. It’s definitely a step.