Alternative Energy

Published on May 19th, 2010 | by Susan Kraemer


Californians to Get a New Way to Go Solar

Sometimes homeowners wanting to go solar are held back by an unlikely opponent. A spouse who just can’t get past the  aesthetics of adding solar panels on a roof.

The unique traditional tile-shape of this integrated solar PV module being developed by SRS Energy might bring a solution to that problem if they can overcome some technical issues.

Rather than adding solar panels on top of existing roofs, these tiles would be used to seamlessly replace the roofing itself.

The maker of the Solé Power Tile is partnering with the maker of the typical traditional clay tile that you see everywhere in California to make the solar roof. This unique solar roofing is designed and constructed to blend in with the traditional clay tiles long made by US Tile, which has created non-solar tiles to create a matching tile for the rest of the roof, such as the gables that don’t face South.


Image: SRS Energy

Roofers would be able to retrofit roofs with clay tiles to upgrade them to be power-producing roofs with these contrasting blue solar sections incorporated into them – or the entire roof could match the blue of the solar tile.

So far, at just 5%, the efficiency of this tile is not remotely close to traditional PV solar, and would require vastly more space to provide the same amount of power. But some homeowners, with plenty of roof space, that is less of an issue than aesthetics.

California’s CSI utility rebates are paid to homeowners based on the expected performance of each make and model of solar panel. To qualify for the CSI rebates, all solar panels must undergo rigorous testing by the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) to ensure that the output will be what the company says it will be. The Solé Power Tile has just passed the UL 1703 testing.

Solar installers need the  data produced by the testing to ensure that their estimated output is correct. But with such a novel product, great care should be taken that durability can be guaranteed.

Rooftop solar panels will be powering the grid for up to 40 years, and reducing the state’s emissions. Because solar panels receive the state rebate based on their expected output, an accurate estimate of every installation’s output is key to ensuring that the state is not overpaying you for your solar contribution to cleaning California’s grid.

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