Elon Musk recently published an article on the Tesla Motors blog about his new Master Plan for solar panels. For those who don't know, Musk is an entrepreneur, engineer and inventor who was born in Pretoria. He currently has a net worth of about R12 billion and his aim is to make solar panels more appealing. How exactly is he going to achieve this? Through appearance and functionality.
The general public can be divided into two common groups, namely those who like the solar panel look, and those who don't. Let's face it, not everyone embraces the change and it's understandable. Depending on how independent you want to be, solar panels can take up a large part of the roof. How it's going to affect the appearance of the house can't really be predicted until the panels are up there.
This is the problem Musk wants to solve. He wants to take solar panels in the same direction as the smartphone craze. Even though it sounds a little dramatic, it's probably about time that people start paying attention to the growing need for alternative solutions. What better way to do this than to give it some style? Granted, Tesla isn't the only company that's inspired to bring more choice to the public. In fact, there are some brilliant designs out there and some of them have been integrated with historical landmarks. So what makes Musk's approach so much different?
In the update of his Master Plan he dropped the words solar roof with battery. At the moment panels and batteries come separately, and the designs have improved dramatically. They are more flexible, colorful and blend better with the setting of the home. But what Musk is suggesting means possibly integrating the panels with the roof's infrastructure, which presents a distinct problem.
As attractive as the convenience of it all seems, one has to wonder how long the panels will stay in a functional state. The average solar panel needs to be replaced every 25 years, and as it gets older it loses efficiency. Does this mean you have to replace the whole roof every 25 years? Architects and designers are under constant pressure to come up with creative ways of incorporating solar panels, placing Musk's vision under the "hot news" section. But whether it will be a convenient switch for everyday people is something else.
Whether it's Musk or another brilliant individual who leads in the future of solar panels, there's no question that they are keeping an eye on mass consumer habits. It's only a matter of time before the competition for the best-looking solar panel starts.