What about solar panel shingles as a solution for historic houses and historic districts? Tesla's new option is transformational -- more attractive, more efficient
I've written a number of posts over the years about the issue of solar panels and the diminishment of architectural character when such panels are placed on the front-facing pitched roofs of historic houses.
-- "Solar panels and historic districts: not a simple decision," 2012
-- "Solar energy and the city: more issues," 2015
As mentioned in a previous entry, this has come up recently with "controversy" stirred up by the Greater Greater Washington blog about pretty egregious looking solar panels on a house in the Takoma district of DC ("DC will now allow solar panels in historic districts! (Mostly").
In keeping with the legal rostrum that "hard cases make bad law," the fact is that most houses in DC historic districts have flat roofs so negative design impacts are rarely an issue, and the proposal was pretty butt ugly, which the various reporting and opinion pieces refused to acknowledge ("When Historic Preservation Hurts Cities," New York Times).
Granted, it was climate change activists that were opposed to the original decision, arguing that design integrity matters less given the state of the climate change problem ("When saving the planet spoils the charm of historic houses," Washington Post).
Even the director of DC's Department of the Environment and Energy criticized the original decision.
This is disappointing because there is a simple solution, one that the DC government could spur through design and other technical and financial assistance.
For years, I've been holding out for solar shingles.
The technology has been around for awhile but was costly and not as efficient.
But apparently now Tesla has high performing solar shingles that outperform traditional panel installations ("Are Tesla solar roof tiles worth it?," GES Solar Energy Systems Magazine; "Tesla Solar Roof installations appearing in the wild," PV Magazine).
-- Tesla Solar Roof
And Tesla's solar tiles have been in production since 2018, long before the October 2019 Historic Preservation Review Board that got the bloggers and ANC Commissioners all worked up.
And they have a 98% efficiency rating, which makes them more cost effective compared to traditional solar panels, which range in efficiency from 14% to 23%.
According to the Tesla, the cost of solar tiles is $1.99 per watt generated, which is less than the $2.99 per watt cost of traditional panel-based systems ("Tesla Solar Roof: Elon Musk’s solar roof tiles complete review (V3)," EnergySage).
So the question should be moot.
Design quality doesn't need to be sacrificed on the altar of climate change activism. Just use solar tiles.
(Because of the high efficiency, Tesla recommends that only 30% to 40% of the total number of roof tiles be solar, with the others non-solar. Tax credits only cover the solar-based tiles.)