SolarCity, the renewable power firm owned by Elon Musk, will be making five million homes more sustainable by fitting integrated solar panels into roofs using solar cell technology that is built into traditional roofing materials.
The company announced its plans last month as part of a drive to create more sustainable homes that will be convenient, sustainable, affordable and also aesthetically pleasing to homeowners. It is keen to prove that solar cell rooftops can be a viable option for the majority of domestic properties because they don't overly change the look of a property or require any extra work.
Elon Musk, the company's chairman, spoke with investors in August to explain that homeowners often pause on solar adoption plans when they are aware that a roof will need changing in the near future. This means that SolarCity has a large potential market segment to tap into - with the company's solar cell roof solutions looking better and lasting for much longer than conventional roofs.
The SolarCity roof products will be integrated with battery packs that could ultimately allow the properties to run on solar energy around the clock. The remaining question, of course, is whether the average homeowner will be able to afford the necessary upfront investment.
To date, SolarCity has not been forthcoming about costs, saying that these are yet to be confirmed. However, industry analysts have been mixed in their views, saying that they expect the new product will not be sufficiently affordable to the average homeowner, with earlier versions of solar PV roofs costing up to 33pc more than basic solar panels. Installation costs for the full roof solutions are also more expensive than for the addition of panels.