Have you dreamed about solar energy to power your home? Do you want to start generating free solar power and enjoy reduced electricity bills? Those large solar panels that are becoming commonplace on rooftops are not your only option. You can indeed have home solar energy without solar panels.
That’s right. Building-integrated photovoltaics is the fancy term for solar roof shingles or solar roof tiles. As described by Alfonso Velosa III, co-author of a coming report on the market for the new field, in a recent interview for the New York Times:
“The new materials are part of the building itself, not an addition, and they are taking photovoltaics to the next level — an aesthetic one.”
Whether you are considering solar panels or solar shingles, the process of converting light to energy is the same:
As a land use attorney, my hope is that building codes will soon be revised to require – or at least give a preference to – new construction to include either solar panels or solar roof shingles. Perhaps the Uniform Building Code Council will take the lead?
But I digress….
No matter what style of roofing you have, you can find solar tiles/shingles in colors and shapes that blend in. From rosy-hued terra cotta tiles to salty, wind-worn gray shingles on oceanside cottages, solar shingles become part of the roofing materials, rather than an obtrusive addition. With federal and state incentives offered for renewable energy improvements, plus the added value your property will enjoy ($20 for every $1 annually saved on energy bills), this is a perfect time to invest.
According to the New York Times:
SRS Energy of Philadelphia is making curved solar roofing tiles designed to blend in with Southern California’s traditional clay tiles, said Martin R. Low, the chief executive of SRS. A solar tile system that met half the power needs of a typical California home would cost roughly $20,000 to install after rebates, he estimated, or about 10 to 20 percent more than solar panels providing comparable power.
The building integrated photovoltaics market is not entirely new, or untested. In European countries including Germany and France, the market is quickly growing due to subsidies and programs that pay people for generating solar electricity ad feeding it back into the grid. On the “other side of the pond,” homeowners can recoup investments in 5-7 years, compared to the 10-20 years it may take here in the U.S.
I do believe the United States will catch on. Demand will fuel the market here, and we do not expect solar subsidies or tax incentives to disappear anytime soon. In fact, when solar looks this good, we could even see new programs to help further defray the costs and encourage a conversion to solar power.