October 2020 Update: The Tesla Solar Tiles are still not available in New Zealand at all, and Tesla has not given any indication if they will be coming to New Zealand any time in the future.
Tesla's solar roof tile concepts have been rather hyped in the solar industry in recent times. We can't wait to see them in action, however, Tesla products always take some time to reach New Zealand, realistically it will be close to 2 years before they hit our shores. Who can wait that long?
Solar roofing, or building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), are tried and true and have been around for years, and they are available (in limited quantities) on the New Zealand market. Given the 2 year wait for Tesla's roof tile concept, I thought I would explore roofing products that are integrated with solar pv that are available for the 2017 market in New Zealand.
SolarCentury C21 roof tiles were successfully installed on the Zero Energy Home in Auckland owned by Shay Brazier and Jo Woods in 2012. The solar tiles replaced the need for roofing materials as they are directly fixed onto battens. There are 88 solar tiles positioned on the north facing roof. The system size is 4.16kW. In their first year in the home they used 2,361 kWh, but generated 5,387 kWh from their solar tiles, so they put a lot more power back into the grid than what they used. Find out more: http://zeroenergyhouse.co.nz/energy/
South Island based company Stewart Calder have a product called Solar-Rib. Thin film amorphous photovoltaic solar laminates run between the ribs of their long run aluminum roof material. The flexible solar panels are bonded directly to the roof. In 2010 the company installed their product on a Department of Conservation Hut along the Milford Track, they announced that the product was "Kea proof", as DOC Te Anau area manager Reg Kemper stated " The kea couldn't find anything to get their beaks into on the roof panel, so it got the green light for installation". The Solar-Rib product makes a solar power system appear less obvious on your roof, but they aren't expected to last quite a long as regular solar panels, as they have a 20-year performance warranty, compared to the standard solar panels that have 25 years.
Frameless or glass-on-glass solar modules are popular among those wanting a sleeker, more modern aesthetic. The panels have glass on both sides so sunlight will come between the solar cells. They are popular on carports, conservatory and also verandahs. Costing slightly more than regular framed solar panels, some feel the price increase is worth it as the panels are more elegant and less obtrusive than traditional panels. Glass on glass, or frameless modules, are often used as a feature on a home. They are widely available and are produced by a range of solar panel manufactures, so you are spoiled for choice in that department.