Musk Matters | SolarCity: The Bright Side of the Future

Image credit: SolarCity

Elon Musk is a man known predominantly for his work in the electric car industry, but truth is, he’s got more revolutionary projects going on than we can count. Whether it be Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity, The Boring Company, or SpaceX's Hyperloop services, this eminent entrepreneur’s penchant for innovation has caught Future-Ish’s eye.
by Drue Johnson

The sun’s always on the rise, and so is solar power. Becoming more efficient each year, the widescale adoption of this increasingly affordable energy source would be a major factor in slowing the global impact of manmade climate change. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, about 173,000 terawatts of energy - over ten thousand times the energy usage of all humankind - coming from the sun continuously hits the Earth, making solar power one of the most readily available resources on the planet. Solar tech provides a large return while using just a little space, making it no surprise Elon Musk noted in a February 2016 Business Insider article that “if you could just took a small section of Spain, you could power all of Europe” with solar panels. Ideas like these, and the lucrative nature of an industry so untouched by private businesses later led Musk to purchase SolarCity in late 2016.

SolarCity was founded in 2006 by brothers Lydon and Peter Rive (who, as it happens, are cousins of Elon) after Musk recommended that they look into the solar energy business. Their company creates, advertises, and installs solar panels in both commercial as well as residential structures. SolarCity markets to its potential clients by making it clear that solar energy is not only an affordable option for homeowners, but a smart investment that will save them cash and provide a quick return from day one of installation.

About a year ago, Musk announced that SolarCity would begin installing solar roofing on residential homes some time before 2020. In a May 2017 CNBC article, Musk was stated
"The goal is to have... solar roofs that look better than normal roof, generate electricity, last longer, have better insulation and actually have a cost, an installed cost that is less than a normal roof plus the cost of electricity."
The 4 unique variants of solar shingles offered- textured, smooth, tuscan, and slate- show that SolarCity kept style in mind when designing the roofing. The recent acquisition by Tesla has shown that SolarCity isn’t just in it for aesthetics, but aims for utility too. Now that the electric car company owns SolarCity, a convenient pairing with Tesla’s Powerwall battery helps to ensure that customers will be set with electricity, even if grids are down. Any installed Powerwalls will charge during the day using energy collected by the solar shingles and power the home during the evening, or simply serve as a backup generator should the power go out. The SolarCity site markets the shingles on the basis of affordability, long-lasting quality and savings, making it clear that the company is aiming to popularize the use of solar energy among the common consumer.

Perhaps soon we’ll have solar in our roofs, but what’s the big fuss? The integration of solar arrays into residential structures would be a huge advancement in both energy conservation efforts as well as climate change mitigation. By allowing consumers to gather their own energy from one of the most renewable and least harmful sources, energy bills will plummet along with carbon dioxide emissions. A literal power to the people, affordable solar roofs are just what the world needs to boost solar to the top of the energy game.