Tesla introduces subtle solar roof option for homeowners


tesla-solar-roof-french-slate-roof
Tesla’s solar roof in slate glass. (Tesla)
Jenna Ladd | May 23, 2017

The solar energy market experienced a 97 percent growth in 2016. In total, the U.S. has more than 42 gigawatts of solar energy capacity; that’s enough to power 8.3 million homes.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is working to win over some U.S. homeowners who may be hesitant to install solar panels because of their bulky appearance. The company is introducing solar cell roof tiles to the market this summer that look just like conventional roofing options. The tiles are made of tempered glass, allowing the sun’s rays to reach solar cells tucked away within them. With four styles available: textured, smooth, tuscan and slate, the tiles are made to please the style-conscious homeowner.

As with many of Tesla’s products, the tiles will be cost-prohibitive for many when they first hit the market. The company estimates they will cost about $22 per square foot if a mixture of solar cell tiles and regular tiles are used and $42 dollars per square foot if only solar cell tiles are used. The company’s website reminds prospective buyers of the 30 percent Solar Investment Tax Credit, which allows consumers to deduct 30 percent of the total cost of installing solar panels from their federal income taxes.

The glass tiles come with a lifetime warranty and can allegedly handle hailstones traveling at 100 miles per hour with ease. Tesla compared this to conventional roof tiles, which shattered under the same conditions. Each tile’s solar cell is guaranteed to last 30 years.

The company started taking preorders in early May. It will begin installing roofs in California this June and complete installations throughout the country in the months that follow.

On The Radio – Iowa college students study business aspects of electric cars


The University of Iowa’s team presenting during Alliant Energy’s University Challenge Case Competition on April 9, 2016 in Iowa City. From left: Blake Robinson, Matt Taflinger, and Feng Mao. (UI American Marketing Association/Facebook)
Nick Fetty | April 25, 2016

This week’s On The Radio segment looks at competition in which Iowa college students studied consumers’ decisions when purchasing electric vehicles.

Transcript: Iowa college students study business aspects of electric cars

In an effort to turn more people on to electric cars, a utility company has turned to Iowa college students for help.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Madison, Wisconsin-based Alliant Energy has teamed up with the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business for Alliant Energy’s University Challenge Case Competition, which took place earlier this month. The event gave an opportunity for teams of students from the University of Iowa as well as Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa, Luther College, and St. Ambrose University to study consumers’ decisions when purchasing electric vehicles, such as cost and availability.

Blake Robinson – a business student at the UI – along with classmates Feng Mao and Matt Taflinger won first place in the competition. The team’s platform aimed to educate consumers about the benefits of electric vehicles, motivating dealers to sell more electric vehicles, and lobbying for state-level legislation that would build the necessary infrastructure for electric vehicles to succeed. Robinson said he learned a lot from the opportunity.

Robinson: “What I learned is that a sustainable future with automobiles is in electric vehicles. I’m excited for what’s to come. Tesla has many great new innovations that will really change the industry and I’m just looking forward for what the future holds.”

The first place finish netted Robinson and his team $1,250 in prize money.

For more information about the competition, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.

Eastern Iowa gets its first Tesla station


A Tesla electric car being charged (Windell Oskay / Flickr)
A Tesla electric car being charged (Windell Oskay / Flickr)
KC McGinnis | July 14, 2015

Two Tesla cars got their first charge in eastern Iowa last week.

The fully electric cars were part of a ribbon cutting ceremony at a new Tesla charging station at Bass Family Farms along Highway 30 in Mt. Vernon. Tesla owners can use the charging station for free, which draws power from one of the farm’s buildings.

Bass Family Farms, a chemical-free farm, is now part of Tesla’s Destination Charging Program, which partners with businesses like hotels and restaurants to provide destinations for Tesla owners to charge. It’s part of a growing effort to increase electric car traffic in places with charging stations few and far between. A Tesla Model S can go 265 miles on a single charge, and charging can take several hours depending on the power source. Tesla’s growing Supercharger infrastructure boasts half charge times of just 30 minutes.

While road trips through Iowa can be difficult with only a few charging stations spread along the state’s highways, at-home charging is becoming an increasingly viable option. Tesla has partnered with solar energy provider SolarCity to make home solar panel installation more affordable, meaning Tesla drivers could have a zero emission commute.