Elon Musk wants to make solar panels more beautiful. WIRED's Margaret Rhodes reports on Tesla CEO's latest Master Plan, which calls for a "smoothly integrated and beautiful solar-roof-with-battery product that just works.”
Converting a home to one that's powered by solar energy means homeowners will save money on energy bills and conserve power, but it also means covering a roof in unsightly grids.
Looking to the near future, Aaron Dorf, an architect at Snøhetta who works on some of the firm’s zero-emission projects, things like installation cost and solar cell efficiency will cease to be limiting factors. “Musk is smart to directly target what may be the more significant threshold—beauty.”
Tesla is following other solar companies that have put more focus on the aesthetics of the panels, like Brooklyn-based company Pvilion, which designs tent-like structures and textiles that can harness solar power, or Sistine Solar’s “Solarskin” panels, which are slated to hit the market next year, incorporate photovoltaic cells into tiles and shingles made to match the design of your existing roof.
“As roofs get crowded”—with satellites, antennas, urban gardens, and the like—“and we want to generate more energy, the technology challenge would be to design panels that can be placed in a vertical position,” says Brian Lane, managing principal at Koning Eizenberg Architecture.