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Tech Tuesday: Tesla’s Solar Solution

22 November 2016 | Ryan Coughlan | About a 4 minute read
Tags: Agile, andchat, BHAG, Elon Musk, Energy, green, Green Week, MVP


Since AND Digital had its very first Green Week at the beginning of this month, I thought it would be a great time to speak about some recent news I found incredibly exciting – real-life Iron Man Elon Musk’s recent unveiling of Tesla’s new solar designs.

Everybody knows we have targets to hit in the very near future to reduce our CO2 levels, and with the crisis of global warming looming over us the task often feels too daunting to even begin. With politicians and the general public at odds, it’s currently up to the private sector to make the difference. At our recent ANDChat, our CEO Paramjit spoke of the importance of having Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) in order to strive to reach the very top and Mars-missionary and perennial innovator Musk has clearly had some BHAG’s of his own over the years, not least of all his vision to see a solar roof on every home in the US. Before Musk entered the scene, the prospects of electric cars and solar power were grim. Electric cars were simply unappealing; they didn’t last very long, they didn’t look good and they weren’t great to drive. But just look at the market for Tesla cars now, at the top level they’re a status symbol and a car that most would love to drive – and consequently this has driven competition, which can only be a good thing. Musk has shown adopting new technologies and saving the planet doesn’t have to be boring!

Similarly, to date, powering your home with renewable energy has been an unappealing task. Firstly, you could only do this when the sun is out, meaning you have to have multiple supplies of energy to keep track of. Secondly, they’re pretty ugly and cumbersome things, so you have to not care much about the sight of your house. They can also be expensive to install and potentially unrewarding. In short, in the past ten years you’d have to be really, really enthusiastic about saving the planet to make the jump, and there aren’t enough of those people to make a significant difference to our prospects. However, the progress Tesla is making in Solar technology, I believe, can make as much of an impact to running your home on sustainable energy as the Tesla cars have made to the electric car industry. At some point in the near future, it will be a more expensive and unappealing choice to not have a solar roof, which is key to making this approach scalable and thus dramatically enlightening our prospects of combating climate change.

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Figure 1 A house completely run on sustainable energy and covered in solar tilesf2

Figure 2 French Slate Roof

As you can see in the images above, the new solar textured glass tiles not only look incredible but they are compatible with any roof-shape. They’re effective, they’re attractive and they’re affordable and this instantly makes the prospect of jumping to solar power much more appealing. Most importantly they’re practical: they’re stronger than a conventional roof, they insulate well and they’re about 98% as efficient as a conventional solar roof. That’s not to say this is the perfect solution, there is still a very long way to go – for example a large amount of the solar energy still goes unused, and we need better renewable solutions from utilities providers. However, this is an important step in the journey. At AND Digital we are huge believers in the agile approach, beginning with creating a strong MVP (minimum viable product), and if this was an MVP to continuously improve upon we’d be very happy.

Along with the solar tiles, Musk also released the newest version of the power-wall: a battery to harness and store the collected solar power, meaning you can run your home from the battery when there is no sun around. This is probably the biggest remaining obstacle in the solar solution. Batteries are still expensive and the improvements in this field are happening incrementally but slowly.

In a recent blog, our Chief Product Officer Stephen Paterson made the case for an omni-channel solution, reducing complexity for the user. Musk has also reiterated the need for integration, i.e. for your battery to be able to power your car and your home and this could be a key to future adoption.

 

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