What’s That Musky Smell?

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Well, the man who has made billions with a “b” by sponging off of your taxpayer dollars, the man you can always find face-down at the government trough, is at it again.

elon-musk-solar-shingles

Elon Musk now says that his whiz-bang glass solar roofing shingles will be, get this, cheaper than a “normal” roof, viz:

Musk told the crowd that he had just returned from a meeting with his new solar engineering team. Tesla’s new solar roof product, he proclaimed, will actually cost less to manufacture and install than a traditional roof—even before savings from the power bill. “Electricity,” Musk said, “is just a bonus.”

If Musk’s claims prove true, this could be a real turning point in the evolution of solar power. The rooftop shingles he unveiled just a few weeks ago are something to behold: They’re made of textured glass and are virtually indistinguishable from high-end roofing products. They also transform light into power for your home and your electric car.

“So the basic proposition will be: Would you like a roof that looks better than a normal roof, lasts twice as long, costs less and—by the way—generates electricity?” Musk said. “Why would you get anything else?”

Make no mistake: The new shingles will still be a premium product, at least when they first roll out. The terra cotta and slate roofs Tesla mimicked are among the most expensive roofing materials on the market—costing as much as 20 times more than cheap asphalt shingles.

Much of the cost savings Musk is anticipating comes from shipping the materials. Traditional roofing materials are brittle, heavy, and bulky. Shipping costs are high, as is the quantity lost to breakage. The new tempered-glass roof tiles, engineered in Tesla’s new automotive and solar glass division, weigh as little as a fifth of current products and are considerably easier to ship, Musk said.

First off, glass is heavy. I’m not buying for one minute that they would be cheaper to ship than asphalt shingles, for example. And I can guarantee you that the “quantity lost to breakage” will be greater than with asphalt shingles. If our cell phones have taught us anything, it is that even the toughest “Gorilla Glass” is still … well … glass. So the first conclusion is that for Elon, a “normal” roof is either slate or terra-cotta tile … hey, he’s one of the elite, cut him some slack, he likely hasn’t lived in a house with an asphalt shingle roof or an aluminum roof in a while …

Will Elon’s roof be lighter than terracotta? Perhaps … but at this point we only have his word. But in any case, I greatly doubt that the largest cost of a slate roof is shipping … digging the slate out of the ground is a major cost.

Next, he’s conveniently omitted the cost of the batteries you’d need to make the system work, as well as the inverter. His 14KWhr “BerlinWall” batteries, or whatever they’re called, are far from cheap at $5,500 a pop … even if you can get by with only one battery, it is still more expensive by itself than a 40-year asphalt shingle roof. And if he is worried about breakage when shipping terra-cotta, shipping those babies won’t be either cheap or easy.

Also, he’s blowing smoke about lifetime. An asphalt shingle roof replacement will last forty years and cost something like $3.80 per square foot. A slate roof replacement will cost about five times that. Musk is claiming his solar panels will last longer than slate??? … how on earth would he even know if that were true? And what lasts longer than slate, it’s freakin’ stone, for heaven’s sake.

Next, firemen hate rooftop solar for a good reason. Think about having to punch a hole into a roof to get inside when the rest of the house is on fire … you do NOT want to be punching through glass solar panels hooked up to an inverter and a giant battery. In fact, if such a house is on fire, the battery is both a toxic hazard and an explosive hazard, while the roof is a no-go zone …

And because that is the case, your insurance costs will go up, something you’d never even consider with a normal roof.

Next, these solar shingles will be much more difficult to install, and thus much costlier, than a regular roof, involving electricians, special installers, and other high-priced folks.

Finally, the cost of solar panels has fallen to where it is now about a buck a watt, which works out to about $15 per square foot just for the panel itself. This raw material cost is more than the INSTALLED cost for slate roofing. And while Musk might reduce that, I’d be shocked if he cut it much. In fact, if Musk could reduce the square-foot cost of solar panels, why is he not making panels themselves with his new glass technology? I leave the answer to the reader.

Net result? It’s the usual story. When Musk’s lips are moving he either counting how much money he has screwed out of the American public, or he’s lying about his upcoming products … the only good news is that with the new Administration, we can only hope that his long gravy-train ride is over.

However, he is a very, very smart man, so I wouldn’t be surprised to find him cozening the public out of yet more money before he runs out of suckers. Nobody ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American greenoisie, and Musk has made a science out of playing to their worst fears.

Finally, do electric cars have an economically viable role to play in our transportation system? My answer, which may surprise some, is yes, quite possibly … but we should not make some guy insanely wealthy by subsidizing sparky cars which are NOT economically viable. If Musk is so damn smart, then let him prove it in the marketplace like anyone else. The government should not be in the business of supporting one solution over the other, no matter how wonderful the government’s intentions are, no matter if they are liberal or conservative, no matter what good outcome they blithely predict.

The solution is simple, and might even start soon. It is to

STOP SUBSIDIZING INEFFICIENT TECHNOLOGIES THAT ARE NOT READY FOR MARKET!!

Regards to all,

w.

My Usual Request: Misunderstandings start easily and can last forever. I politely request that commenters QUOTE THE EXACT WORDS YOU DISAGREE WITH, so we can all understand your objection.

My Second Request: Please do not stop after merely claiming I’m using the wrong dataset or the wrong method. I may well be wrong, but such observations are not meaningful until you add a link to the proper dataset or an explanation of the right method.

The Math: At present, Musk has received $4.9 billion dollars in taxpayer subsidies. In return he has delivered cars that are so expensive that the wealthy buyers of such cars get their own personal subsidy in the form of a tax deductions.

At this point, are we supposed to say “Thanks, Elon”?

Meanwhile, in the developing world, WWFA says a village-sized water well costs about $8,000 to put in … so the money we’ve wasted on Musk and his sparky cars would buy clean water wells for more than half a million developing communities.

I doubt that folks in those communities would say “Thanks, Elon” if they knew about that Faustian bargain …

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445 thoughts on “What’s That Musky Smell?

    • What about in the winter when the roof is perpetually covered by snow? What about the waste of material on the side of the roof not facing South (or North in the S hemisphere)? Will they have dummy tiles that look the same, cost the same, but don’t function?

      • Well Elon should plan to put his solar shingles on his Mars train. It’s going to be out in space for a while, so it will need a way to gather solar energy.

        g

      • And what about the sun or the lack of it.
        This time of year it infrequently appears.
        I live in Langley, British Columbia and I have a rain gauge which indicates that in my back yard it has been raining for 39 consecutive days and counting.
        Not much solar happening here.

      • There are major issue with solar power. There are off-sets between peak power production and peak usage. The diurnal off-set can be handled by installing batteries, but there is also a seasonal off-set. The time of year for peak power production and peak usage is off-set by roughly 6 months. Obviously this seasonal off-set is reduced for people living close to the equator, however for residents of Europe, North America, East Asia (not SEA), Australia, NZ, southern Africa and southern South America the seasonal off-set is substantial.

        A high air conditioning load does increase summer power usage which would reduce the seasonal off-set. One sparsely discussed issue for photovoltaic power is that the power conversion efficiency for polycrystalline silicon cells (like the ones the Mr. Musk’s company sells) drops with increasing temperature. Solar power production is reduced by time of day, time of year, snow cover, clouds, and mid day temperatures.

      • Well the significant words in the solar energy (free clean green renewable) story are : ” per square meter “. and by the look of ‘loni’s tile, somewhat less that half of the area actually knows what a photon is.
        homo sapiens sapiens evidently is ” self aware ” if I understand ancient mediaeval Roman, which I don’t. So maybe that means ” is aware of himself “. Well that surely is the hero of our story.
        I dunno if there ever was a ” thinking man “, but evidently this isn’t one.

        A thinking man, who also understands non imaging optics, and diffraction gratings / Fresnel lenses / prisms, might get the idea that a suitable Fresnel / grating structure, could be cheaply molded and designed to convert near normal incidence radiation, into a near grazing diffracted beam, so that his glass receiver could have a near grazing auxiliary beam impinging on it from one or two side antennas, instead of wasting that surface area on optically inactive terra cotta puffery.

        Committing one’s valuable roof area to surfaces that are less than the highest possible solar conversion efficiency, is lunacy. The number of peak KW’s needed is not huge, but if you put up low efficiency junk panels or tiles, it doesn’t matter how cheap they are.

        G

      • heavy materials are used for roof tiles for a reason , i hate to see a street after a storm when the homes have had these installed.

      • ” . . . been raining for 39 consecutive days and counting . . .”

        Not to worry. The Musker also offers a quick-pop house-size Kevlar umbrella to keep rain and hail off the glass shingles. All part of the package.

      • CO2… ,
        If the roof has a certain slope, it can be heated for a short moment causing the snow to slide down.

        By using a west/east orientation, one can harvest more sunlight (or get sunlight in the afternoon when the morning was cloudy, but the total price will go up.

        Anyway, the price has to be low, but Musk says, the price will be the same as a convetional roof, incluing subsidies.

        The really good thing is the design. We have so much ugly solar roofs; These may look much better.

      • Snow: Pitch the roof so that it sheds snow. Since the material is glass it should shed fairly easily
        Shatter: Yes, phone glass shatters fairly easily, but then the thickness is measured in microns. If the quartz is several mm thick that becomes a bit less of a problem.
        North Facing: I imagine that yes, there would be dummy tiles that don’t function and cost less.
        That said – still probably not worth installing. The cost of solar is going down so fast that if I had the choice of buying a roof right now, or waiting a year and watching the price come down 10% I would foot the electric bill for a year to catch the decline. Problem is the same would be true next year. And the year after that.

      • East and west are a problem too, since the roof will only see sunlight for half the day.
        God forbid your neighbor to the east or west grow a tall tree.

    • My thought too, but apparently they tested these “shingles” by dropping ten pound weights on them, seems legit. My reading implies 20x the cost of asphalt, that means an average home runs $100K. So yes until you are in a multi million dollar home, price is an issue. Musk’s claim was his new product was equable cost wise with high end roofing surfaces. Slate, maybe copper sheet? The fireman’s issue will be more than a stumbling point.

      • Great!

        Only, tempered glass is relatively impervious to impacts; think car windshields.
        What easily breaks tempered glass are chips, scratches and stress across weak areas, like corners. One chip, one scratch, one broke corner and it is a pile of little chips if tempered correctly.

        Glass chips are not the kinds of things one want immediately around a house. Bad for feet, bad for tires, bad for birds, impossible to easily pick up.

      • You ever see emergency crews breaking car windscreens? A couple of sharp taps with a small device and you are through. The tempering makes it easy to remove the rest of the glass though.

      • The Fireman issue (not being able to cut through them like a asphalt and plywood roof) is less of a problem when you compare them to slate roofs.

        The other Fireman issues (producing high voltage electricity that you can’t shut off by cutting the main) is much more of a problem. I figure if rooftop solar ever truly becomes common there will need to be some kind of shutdown available, ether automatic or preferably on demand.

      • “Glass chips are not the kinds of things one want immediately around a house. Bad for feet, bad for tires, bad for birds, impossible to easily pick up.”

        At our place roof water becomes drinking water. Floating glass chips in drinking water not want.

      • Yeah, those are a requirement, but while it breaks the circuit, you still have high voltage innards of cells rapidly generating due to the light of the fire. They become capacitors that can arc whenever anything comes close.

      • You cant shut off a solar panel any more than you can shut off a battery.

        All you can do is break the connections between panels so that high volatile series stacks no longer exist.

        Anyway. solar is probably dead in the water.

        It has a sort of niche application in very hot places to run air con, but that’s it really.

      • If the 10 pound weight was flat if probably would not break it. Sometimes its shape rather than weight that matters.

      • ATheoK: The strength of the windshield is from the plastic between the 2 sheets of Glass. A purely tempered glass, when hit sharply by a small object, will crack into a thousand pieces… Much more safe to deal with than great sharp shards.

      • So where do you find glass (chips) that float in on or around water ??

        Take drinking water off top, not off bottom where glass chips lie.

        g

    • Like it or not there is a lot of government funded home building required on Mars. Light weight, electric roofing will be a requirement, (there is no grid), in order to save the Marsian environment from CO2. It may increase the air temperature from -165 to -164.9. This would be catastrophic for life on Mars. Especially as we don ‘t yet know what lives there. So if we start run away global warming and then never discover any life forms we will “know” we killed such and are responsible for Marsian genocide.

      Milking the Earth’s economy to pay for Marsian rent seekers is the perfect Keynesian outcome for the US economy. It may even be possible to enlist a larger army on Mars to “protect” it from threats from ……. the yellow and red perils! If you need to collect taxes that do nothing good, for rent seekers who have no business model and nothing to do, you will need a gun to collect. The down side for this economic model is its difficult to collect taxes from rent seekers.

    • Asphalt shingle roof at 40years?? I’ve not seen a standard 3 tab last past 20 (pushing it) and most are generous at 15 years.

      • Yeah, I saw the 40 year statement too. I agree, about 20 years for a 3 tab asphalt roof is average + or – 5 years. Regardless, they are good enough and the least expensive. Most people will move on before they need a new roof.

        However, I agree with Eshenbach’s overall analysis. Musk is gaming the system.

      • I don’t think I’ve SEEN a standard 3 – tab roof get put on in nearly a decade. Everyone around here in Indiana has gone over to Architectural shingles (or as we call them, Dimensionals) and I really do believe you might get 40 years out of some of them. Course, they market them as 50 or even 60 year shingles. <¿<

        We just reroofed my sisters place last year. Went with stone covered steel, interlocking. They're supposed to be good for up to 100mph winds, which is handy when the occasional twister near-misses you. She had a little F1 touch down through the field a couple years ago. Lost a few patches of shingles and some siding. Then it crossed the road and took out the neighbors barn, but at least missed their house.

        Weather can be a real bitch, no CAGW needed. High Winds, Hale, Freezing Cold and Scorching Sun. All do their best to beat a house down. The roofing materials we use today all have their good and bad points, Asphalt is relatively cheap and easy to replace, and replace it you will. Metal, Slate and Terra Cotta cost more and are harder to work with, but are more durable. Rubber or Tar flat roofs work relatively poorly and need almost yearly maintenance, but can cover a huge area without needing to be peeked into the stratosphere. It's all about tradeoffs.

        These Glass Solar shingles sound like you'll be trading a lot of money and durability for a little bit of electricity and a lot of Green good feels. Needless to say, I doubt you'll be seeing them on an Indiana farmhouse anytime soon.

      • Asphalt shingles are common in Wyoming. Some are supposed to be good for wind above 100 mph. I’m not sure if they are—mine are not rated that high, so I still pick up the ones blown off and periodically replace the missing ones. There used to be T-Lock shingles which were better in wind, but insurance companies hated them because the whole roof had to be replaced if the shingles were damaged. I wonder about the solar shingles or even some of the high-end roofing materials, which could have the same problem. Insurance costs must be very high. (A forty year lifespan on asphalt shingles does seem unrealistic. Perhaps if you never have hail, high wind, etc, you might get that many years.)

      • BFL – The asphalt shingles on my last house have been there 30 years and not yet due for replacement; my current house was built 14 years ago, and the asphalt shingles look like new. Mind you, I live at 52 N so they are not subject to extreme heat like California or Arizona and they are high quality shingles. I had a third house with high quality shingles that are 36 years old and other than some repairs done due to hail damage, they too are not in need of replacement. I suspect the quality of the shingles, exposure to the sun and latitude are big issues in the longevity of asphalt shingles.

    • But you don’t understand, if we all buy his roof the climate will mend itself and there won’t be any hail, it will only rain where it is and the sun will shine gently on a greatful populace.

    • How long till Griff pops up and starts touting Musk’s statement as proof that roof top solar is economic and here to stay.

    • agimarc:
      I agree with the sentiments of the article completely. However, tempered glass dose just fine in most hail storms. I’ve driven through them at 60mph and never damaged a windshield.

  1. The left wants to do away with all fossil fuels. Imagine fighting WWIII with electric tanks, airplanes, jeeps (whoa, needs a five-hour charge, Sarge!) etc.

    • Eric, not sure if they understand that in USA. It used to be called corrugated galvanised iron roofing sheets but steel is the correct term. BHP Lysaght (now Bluescope Lysaght) use the term “Colorbond” steel roofing.which has coloured zinc power coated oven baked paint. They last at least 50 years. In dry areas the old galvanised iron sheets have lasted over 100 years. The cost is about $A20/ sq m.but can get plain galvanised at down to $A11/ sq m. Common sheets size are 4×8 ft and 4x12ft but one can get lengths of 24ft or longer delivered on semi-tailers This is the recommended roofing for housing in cyclone prone areas along the Queensland coast. The garage/shed I erected at my place is designed for an Aus cat 3 (US designation Cat 4) cyclone/hurricane/typhoon. with winds over 180 km/hr.
      No one uses asphalt or wood shingles in Australia. In hot weather the asphalt melts. Bush fires are also a problem. In many council ares these are banned. Beside steel sheet roofing in Australia pressed concrete (or more correctly mortar as containing sand, cement and flyash) tiles are the next most common. I thought that the Australian companies James Hardie and BORAL had captured about 10% of the roofing USA market their concrete tiles which are about 1/3 of the price of terracotta tiles.

      • I see the metal roofing in areas with high snow load. The metal sheds snow well and warms in the daytime. We hope to change to a metal roof in the future due to shingle loss in wind.

      • Yes, metal roofs are pretty standard in the mountains where you can have feet of snow on the roof for months at a time as well as 100+ mph winds. A big advantage is that they are much more resistant to forming to ice dams which can quickly destroy a 3-tab shingle roof.

      • I see that Boral has just bought Headwaters Inc which is the largest supplier and user of flyash in USA. CEO Kane of Boral must like the election of Trump and likely more coal fired power stations. Also, expect to see more steel roofing, concrete roof tiles, and concrete blocks.

      • Here in western PA I know several cement and block manufacturers who have shutdown since 2012. Also know many people working in coal industry who are out of a job. Got a feeling this situation is going to change, rapidly.

  2. Such rants could be seen as politically motivated, not something you see here often. You should have used more clever language.

    • I have to agree. I usually enjoy Willis’ posts, but not this one. Here in the UK, you wouldn’t be able to find an asphalt roof on a home! I remember the first time I heard that US homes have such flimsy roofs, and I thought, ‘What?’. All roofs here are slate or tile. They are very strong and last 100 years, and much more. So you might think that Musk’s roof would be uneconomic. Well, yes and no. There’s no point in re-roofing, but if it’s a new home, then surely solar-powered is the way. We DO have to find energy security – especially here, in Europe, and we do have to go down the solar route at some point. Where I diverge from current advocates is that I state that time hasn’t arrived yet. When solar panels can generate a really good energy return, then we should all go that way. At the moment, despite promises, they are abysmal. Huge outlay, small return, long payback time (that is actually almost infinite, despite what solar companies and green groups state). When solar panels can exist without subsidy, then they have truly arrived. Willis’ post hits some true spots (like subsidy) but rants on about fireman and insurance, which is a minor consideration.

      Should have considered the writing more, Willis, before submitting to publish. You are above this.

      • Don’t discount the use of building regulations to force you to change your whole roof if a part needs replacing. Currently if need to replace 15% or more you have to do the whole lot in ‘green’ approved roofing. While it might save you on energy bills eventually it might be that you can’t afford to do the rest.

      • I call BS on this design until you fix the most basic issues. How do you fasten them to the roof. Pretty sure you can’t nail them. They have to overlap in some fashion. And roofs have curves; pretty sure you won’t be cutting pieces. There’s an electrical connection for each “shingle”. The info may be dated buy saw in some cases asphalt shingles were better than tile in some wind conditions because the asphalt tore apart piece meal as opposed to lifting whole tiles off.

      • “but saw” not “buy saw”. Now imagine your roof catching fire after the hurricane has passed over and your shingles start generating electricity again. The Tesla cars seem to have some affinity to catching fire as it is.

      • Why do you believe that you will have to go down the solar route somehow?
        I can’t think of any rational reason for wanting solar, especially in most of Europe. Spain and Southern Italy are at least in the realm of possibility. North of that, forget about it.

      • Britain, and Europe, (to comply with the CO2 targets) can only reduce emissions by switching to non-fossil fuels. We have a fair bit of wind here, but solar is actually more reliable. What we’re waiting for is much more efficient solar cells, as the current ones can’t cut it. Geothermal is too expensive, wind is unreliable, wave and tidal can’t provide anywhere near enough, and nuclear is seen by the public as dangerous…that leaves solar. The question is, why did you need me to explain it? I believe solar is the future, as it’s relatively simple technology, and available to anyone (coast of inland). Every home in the UK could be powered by solar…if those homes were ‘passive’ homes. But if we see the efficiency of panels increase dramatically, then we need not even resort to homes with such poor air change ratios. So as I said, solar is the way to go. We’re not going to be able to meet the CO2 emission levels set down in law by any other means.

      • So you have to do it to comply with your idiot politicians.
        Simple solutions, get some sane politicians and give up on those meaningless CO regulations.

      • I couldn’t agree more! The UK government has made legally binding CO2 emission levels for the future. We have to comply, and reduce our emissions by 80% by 2050. Solar and nuclear is the only way that’s going to happen. Since nuclear means huge per-kWh costs (because we are to allow China and France to build us nuclear stations, and PRE-set the per-hour cost!), then solar really is the ONLY choice! Each home will have to be solar powered.

        You see, you may now get a sense of why Brexit happened. It wasn’t just about the EU, or immigration, it was about how our political leaders have led us down paths over the years. Our current borrowing requirement is eye-watering, and is not talked about by the media very much. It now cannot be inflated away because inflation is low. So we have to export more. To do that, the Pound has to stay low (a great benefit from the Brexit vote, but ignorant people at the BBC etc. think a low pound is a bad thing!). We also need good trading agreements (Brexit, again). If we don’t wrestle our current deficit then we are in big trouble – though we are in plentiful company.

    • no, its only because YOU see everything thru the prism of politics that you think its politically motivated. Thru the prism of efficiency and rent seeking con men its clear that politics has nothing to do with this criticism of Musk. You liberals are always SO transparent.

  3. “””””….. The solution is simple, and might even start soon. It is to

    STOP SUBSIDIZING INEFFICIENT TECHNOLOGIES THAT ARE NOT READY FOR MARKET!!
    ……”””””

    Correction: The solution is simple, and might even start soon. It is to

    STOP SUBSIDIZING INEFFICIENT TECHNOLOGIES THAT ARE READY FOR MARKET!!

    If they are ready for market, they have no need for subsidies.

    The solution is simple, and might even start soon. It is to

    STOP SUBSIDIZING INEFFICIENT TECHNOLOGIES .

    With solar energy, nothing matters but efficiency; all other things being equal. The sun isn’t going to supply any more, any time soon.

    The solution is simple, and might even start soon. It is to

    STOP SUBSIDIZING.

    G

    • Dead right. But it needs to be combined with a truly free market. That means one that uses price as a signal for real cost. Normally sellers will price their product based on costs and demand. Usually fine. But when big companies ‘dump’ stock at losing prices to drive a competitor out of business, or as a loss leader, they distort the free market. So a free market HAS RULES, strict ones. And one of them, as you rightly say, is no subsidies.

      • The problem with this notion of predatory pricing, is that it exists only in the mind of people who have no idea how economics works.
        First off, there’s economies of scale. If a company is selling 10 times more than it’s competitors, it has to lose 10 times as much in order to make such a strategy work, and that’s only assuming it’s competitors do nothing.
        The easiest thing for the competitor to do is to stop selling until the so called predator stops selling at a loss. This way the predator is losing lots of money, and the competitor isn’t losing anything.
        Even if the competitor does somehow go out of business, it’s assets don’t evaporate, they are available for anyone to buy at fire sale prices. And it’s a great opportunity since the major player in the market has just exhausted all of it’s resources.

    • george.e.smith writes

      STOP SUBSIDIZING.

      Are you in the US? At the moment…

      The cost of petrol in the US is about US$2.30 per US gallon
      The cost of petrol in Australia is about US$6.40 per US gallon

      The US petrol prices are way too low by world standards. Perhaps if you were expected to pay the price everyone else paid, you might feel differently about “subsidies”

      • you have way too much to eat by world standards, way too much health, way too much education, too.
        so thanks, procrustes, but i could do with less of your inverted values.

      • The majority of that price is taxes. The world gas market is actually fairly flat. The problem comes that some countries tax the heck out of fuel, and others subsidize it. America taxes a bit. Australia and Europe tax the heck out of it.

      • benofhouston writes

        The majority of that price is taxes.

        Nope. Australians pay about US$2.03 in tax on that US gallon. Taking all that tax out still leaves our price US$4.37 which is still a bit under twice the price US people pay.

      • I’m not sure that graph is accurate mobihci?

        https://www.ato.gov.au/business/excise-and-excise-equivalent-goods/fuel-excise/excise-rates-for-fuel/

        …is the official excise for Australian petrol and its AU$0.396 per litre
        Currently petrol is about AU$1.25 per litre or so where I am.

        But your graph has the amount of tax well over 1/3, it looks to be very nearly 1/2.

        http://www.aip.com.au/pricing/facts/Facts_about_Petrol_Prices_and_the_Australian_Fuel_Market.htm

      • TimTheToolMan November 19, 2016 at 10:27 pm

        The cost of petrol in the US is about US$2.30 per US gallon
        The cost of petrol in Australia is about US$6.40 per US gallon

        The US petrol prices are way too low by world standards. Perhaps if you were expected to pay the price everyone else paid, you might feel differently about “subsidies”

        In 2013 the total subsidies (direct, tax, and other) given to oil and natural gas was about 2.3 billion. For that we got about 4.6 billion tonnes of oil equivalent (TOE) of oil and natural gas (BP Statistical Review).

        This means that the total subsidy is about $0.47 per tonne of oil equivalent. A TOE is about 7.33 barrels, so that’s about $0.06 subsidy per barrel … I’m sure you see where this is heading …

        Next, per the EIA we get about 19 gallons of gas plus 12 gallons of diesel, kerosene, and such from each barrel of crude. That’s 31 gallons.

        So at the end, we are subsidizing 31 gallons of fuel the stunning amount of six measly cents … meaning that in the US, gasoline is subsidized at about two-tenths of a penny per gallon.

        Clearly, that is not the reason for the difference with Australia …

        Regards,

        w.

      • Willis writes

        So at the end, we are subsidizing 31 gallons of fuel the stunning amount of six measly cents … meaning that in the US, gasoline is subsidized at about two-tenths of a penny per gallon.

        No, your government is “subsidising” you personally with your fuel consumption by around 33c per litre when compared to me. By comparison every other country taxes fuel much higher than the US. So whilst you may not agree with “low tax” being a subsidy in your case, you seem to have a big problem with it when it comes to Musk.

      • Tim, you say:

        “No, your government is “subsidising” you personally with your fuel consumption by around 33c per litre when compared to me.”

        Say what? Where did that number come from? You’ve laid no groundwork for that at all.

        w.

      • Willis writes

        Where did that number come from?

        From the post below this one

        http://theconversation.com/factcheck-do-australians-pay-high-petrol-taxes-29264

        I pay 47c/litre tax and you pay 14c/litre tax. You pay very low tax and its your government that “subsidises” you in this. It could, instead, do what every other country in the world does and taxes it taxes fuel much higher. In turn it would have much more tax available to spend on your retirement.

      • petrol is not cheaper in the USA because of subsidies, its expensive elsewhere because of taxation!

      • TimTheToolMan November 20, 2016 at 2:04 am

        Willis writes

        So at the end, we are subsidizing 31 gallons of fuel the stunning amount of six measly cents … meaning that in the US, gasoline is subsidized at about two-tenths of a penny per gallon.

        No, your government is “subsidising” you personally with your fuel consumption by around 33c per litre when compared to me. By comparison every other country taxes fuel much higher than the US. So whilst you may not agree with “low tax” being a subsidy in your case, you seem to have a big problem with it when it comes to Musk.

        I have totaled up everything the EIA calls a subsidy, which includes various tax incentives for fossil fuel exploration and the like. The total is less than a cent per gallon. Clearly, the difference US/OZ is not from subsidies—it is from what in the US is called a “road tax”, as it is supposed to pay for the highways. Yes, that tax is different amounts in the US and OZ … but road taxes have nothing to do with subsidies. They are simply end-product taxes that are assessed at different rates in different jurisdictions (state road taxes here vary greatly). That’s why they are NOT counted by the EIA in their analysis of all subsidies of all forms.

        Here is the essential difference—a subsidy goes into the pocket of the producer. A road tax, on the other hand, goes into fixing up the roads. The US-Australia difference is from taxes, not subsidies.

        w.

      • Sunderlandsteve writes

        petrol is not cheaper in the USA because of subsidies

        Well actually the pre-tax price of petrol is cheaper than every other country too. That’s the oil companies subsidising the US directly.

        The point I’ve been making is that when Musk initially pays no tax to build his companies its an unacceptable subsidy to some but when the US government has low taxes on fuel by comparison to everyone else then apparently that’s an ok situation.

      • Willis writes

        Here is the essential difference—a subsidy goes into the pocket of the producer.

        Musk has pocketed no money from the US taxpayers, instead he is not paying money as tax (yet). Its a big difference Willis. If Musk didn’t build his factories at all, the net tax result would be exactly the same.

        This way you now have new industry in the US and that’s employing people. Try telling those people that the US would be better off without Musk’s initiatives.

      • So, instead of lowering your price you want to raise other people’s price. How very socialist of you, drag everyone DOWN to your level. Your petrol price is high because the socialist scumbags in your government want you to use less. Since intelligent, independent citizens refuse to do that your scumbag socialist government drones force you to by jacking up the prices. See how that works?

      • tim, that graph is correct. if you look at where it changes to tax, you can see it is around 65c. add excise of 38or 39c, you end up at $1.04 wholesale price, add wholesale markup, retail markup, then 10% GST and you end up at $1.20+.

        a reduction in excise could never be considered a subsidy to oil companies, the money never ends up back to them at all. at a stretch, the reduction of excise could be considered a subsidy to road users, that is if the excise actually wasnt enough to cover road repair/construction, however the excise, which was introduced as a road usage tax originally, is now way over the need for roads, it is general revenue for the federal government. that is, it is overtaxing road users.

      • your price is based on the your location and local taxes … we do pay the same costs as you … we pay for the cost of extraction and transportation … no crying about our costs being lower than yours …

      • So who subsidizes the fuel costs in America or why is the cost of petrol in Australia so unearthly high? I suspect in Australia the government adds to the cost of the fuel in an effort to keep costs high (please correct me if I’m wrong). Also, in the US, federal taxes on fuel are 18.4 cents, average state tax is 26.60 cents (eia figures). So 45 cents of the $2.30 is actually tax, not the cost of the fuel itself. I’m not seeing any subsidy here.

      • Why are fuel and other taxes higher in Oz? Because only 25million Australians live in a country the size of the US 48, but they expect first world infrastructure like roads, rail, power , water, hospitals that all work. They also fund a small but capable military and decent social support for those in need. Nothing much to do with scumbag socialism but more to do with high expectations , small population and a big country.

      • The whole debate concerning gas prices in the US versus Australia overlooks a couple of simple issues:
        1) cost of transportation. Australia is farther away from production areas. Therefore, it is more expensive to deliver.
        2) the US consumes much more fuel. Economies of scale dictates the US will benefit from cheaper fuel.
        3) the US is the largest market for oil and gas in the world, giving it the ability to demand a lower cost.
        4) the US is now the world’s largest producer of natural gas and is moving towards fossil fuel independence. Competition breeds lower costs. Australia is no where near being a major petrol producer.
        5) Internal distribution. The US has a robust infrastructure of pipelines and transportation hubs, allowing for competitive fuel prices, even in rural and remote areas. Given Australia’s huge landmass and very small population density of 3 people per sq kilometer versus the US’ 35 people per sq kilometer. Add to this, that Australia largest city accounts for about a quarter of its population, and the internal distribution problem is even worse.
        6) now you can add taxes to the mix, with Australia having to support more infrastructure with fewer citizens.
        7) Conclusion: given the economic realities, it sucks being Australian. Given the natural beauty, its fabulous being an Australian. So lets not talk about the differences of Australian and US cost in strickly simplistic terms. Given the economic and logistical realities, I would fully expect that Australian fuel is about 3-4 times more expensive than US costs.

      • TTM
        You’re not paying fuel prices, you’re paying taxes. What “standards are you referring to, and whomset them? Stupid post bud.
        Love, Cube

      • Tim:
        With all due respect, the failure to impose a tax is, in no way, a subsidy.
        In this case, you just pay a higher rate of tax an Gasoline.
        Language should be used precisely.
        your failure to do so is troubling, since you appear to understand just what youre doing, which is called equivocating.
        Keep your definitions clear, and constant.

      • The figures are incorrect. Gasoline in Australia is currently about $A1.30 per litre (often lower). There are 3.7 litres to the US gallon so the price is $A4.80 per gallon. At current exchange rates that is $US 3.60 per US gallon not $6.40.

      • No! The price of petrol is too high in most places outside the US because it is taxed so highly – negative subsidies. The “world standard” is to tax petroleum products to make them less attractive – and by the way raise a hell of a lot of money for government.

      • Let me get this straight, unless our government taxes us as heavily as your government taxes you, we are being subsidized?

      • Tim, is it actually your contention that oil companies are deliberately charging US consumers less than they could?????
        Are you delusional?

      • tim- australian statists could be taking 100$ a gallon tax – so you’re subsidized to the tune of 99$ per litre!
        hell, they could take 1000 – so you’re just rolling in riches!
        being so wealthy, then, you are a thief because if you didn’t take that 999$ subsidy the babies would eat – but no- you killed them by taking the food from their mouths.
        (i’m getting the hang of channeling proudhon thanks to your splendid example! yay!)

      • today i can buy an imperial gallon of regular gasoline for $2.11.
        1 litre = 0.219969 imperial gallons.
        so that’s 0.46 us cents for a liter of gas.
        your ‘conversation’ website is really well known for lefty lib misinformation- gullible you, eh?
        the price is not 90 cents per liter ($4.09 per gallon) anywhere in the usa. it hasn’t ever been that high.

        try this:
        http://oilprice.com/Energy/Oil-Prices/Top-10-Countries-With-The-Cheapest-And-Most-Expensive-Gas.html

      • tim, who is complaining about the levels musk is being taxed at ? that is for governments to decide. i think the complaints are mainly around the amout of taxpayer money that is directly handed to his company.

      • Paying less taxes than other countries pay is not subsidizing, because we do not have world government and we do not have “standard” taxes on gas. Each country sets it’s own tax rates – ours is less than others, but that is not subsidy. You whole argument is really bizarre.

      • TimTheToolMan November 20, 2016 at 1:41 am
        gnomish November 20, 2016 at 3:04 am

        Hi guys something else may be in play

        http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-19/plans-for-oil-refinery-in-gladstone/6480980?pfmredir=sm

        So Tim is/did the refinery get built? Here in the US we do our own refining. How much extra cost is incurred because you are buying 60% of your fuel is refined abroad?

        michael

        also did anything ever come of these finds? Or were they strangled to death by the green Blob. perhaps if you push for their development your fuel costs would go down Your countries crude oil production is in a decline. Just saying

        http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/australian-shale-oil-discovery-could-be-larger-than-canada-s-oilsands-1.1320034

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/9822955/Trillions-of-dollars-worth-of-oil-found-in-Australian-outback.html

      • TimTheToolMan
        November 20, 2016 at 1:41 am

        Ah..must be Australia’s GST on top of that… So we have AU paying 91c/litre + 47c tax and the US paying 76c/litre and further being “subsidised” in the sense the government only taxes at 14c/litre – not much at all compared to every other country.

        http://theconversation.com/factcheck-do-australians-pay-high-petrol-taxes-29264

        Not so different from Musk not being taxed (yet) really…

        …and all the original and subsequent comments re subsidy/taxes.

        As most have commented, subsidies and taxes are not the same thing. There are many, many reasons for price differences (distance,distribution,refining costs,national policy on road tax,currency fluctuations,VAT rates,sales tax etc. etc). Don’t forget oil is sold in dollars at a market rate.

        If your area is more expensive, it is the price that your area is willing to pay, no more, no less.

        However, one other thing is most people have a VOTE. I suspect that Americans have more easy access to their representatives and they are more likely to complain and be listened to. No point in moaning because of jealousy.

        It is like me complaining that “proper” English tea must be subsidised in England because it is a quarter of the price it is here in south-west France.

        SteveT

      • You have no idea what you are talking about. You are causing climate change all by yourself. A subsidy has a dead weight welfare loss. No matter what circumstance, it reduces the overall economy. Lack of a tax is not a subsidy. And, just because you pay more in tax, it does not mean the US benefits other than in the very short term upon implementation of a new higher tax regimen. After that preferences, for both consumers and suppliers, could shift dependent upon elasticity of supply and demand of each respective curve in isolation and in combination.

    • Yes! Subsidies attract crooks and corruption like flies around a cow pat.

      And if we got rid of all these darn corporate welfare subsidies, we’d all be paying a lot less taxes.

      Subsidies are always a bad thing. No exceptions!

    • Check the fine print. Either they don’t know you have a solar roof, or they put in a little caveat that they won’t pay for certain things that increase risk. A lot of policies also have a “we don’t cover structural changes you didn’t specifically tell us about” clause.

      A lot of fire departments are going with “let it burn to the ground” instead of trying to put out fires in houses with extensive solar panel setups.

      • Adding solar panels is not considered a ‘structural change’.

        Code requires a three foot access around solar panels so firemen have access to the roof.

        Generally only a limited amount of roof gets solar panels so there are plenty of other areas to ventilate a roof if needed. Although if your roof needs to be ventilated, there isn’t likely to be much left of your house anyway. ;-)

        Solar is very common so firemen are trained how to handle it. Code requires a disconnect, plus firemen have the tools to severe conduits and cables if necessary. And it is pretty easy to break loose a panel if you need to get under it.

      • They do know I have solar panels, because I told them, yet there was no surcharge. To receive the feed in tariff the property needs to meet certain criteria, including being correctly wired. This means that when the mains supply is interrupted the solar panels are switched off. As a fire will almost certainly trip out the earth leakage circuit breaker, there is not likely to be any additional risk to fire fighters.

    • You’ve just raised a worrying point with me.
      So do I but I don’t believe I notified my insurer when I had the system installed*. (purely a financial decision) In the event of a fire caused by it I wonder where my insurance entitlement stands. I’ll be giving them a call first thing Monday.

      • Its more for the fireman’s safety. Unless they have a shut off available to them they are reluctant to get shocked. Thus let it burn.

    • A meat packing plant in New Jersey burned to the ground…it had panels on its flat roof, firefighters couldnt access the fire quickly, the building and the hundreds of thousands of pounds of meat inside were a total loss.
      Link:
      http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/2-Alarm-Fire-Rips-Through-Dietz–Watson-Building-222001371.html

      Money quotes?
      here:

      “The fire broke out at the Dietz & Watson cold storage facility on Cooperstown Road in Delanco, Burlington County, N.J. around 1:30 p.m. Sunday and caused the roof, lined with thousands of solar panels, to collapse within hours. Thick, black smoke could be seen billowing from the facility miles away.”

      Regarding the risk of electrocution faced by firefighters?

      “SOLAR PANELS POSE HAZARD
      Firefighters had to pull back at some points because the fully-charged solar panels posed the risk of electrocution.
      “With all that power and energy up there, I can’t jeopardize a guy’s life for that,” said Holt.
      Officials say the fire was focused between the trusses and solar panels on the roof. There have been two explosions so far and at least one wall collapsed.”

      How can any sane person criticize photovoltaic roof installations?

      Easily, I suppose.

      • So the solar panels were “fully-charged”….

        …to whom? To the taxpayers, in large part, would be my guess.

        That is, indeed, frightening. But I wouldn’t worry too much about electrocution, from rooftop solar panels.

        Have you ever looked at a solar power plant (“solar farm”) like this…

        …and noticed what is not there?

        There are never any of these:

        That’s because the solar panels produce so little power than you don’t need big transformer substations for them, like the real power plants would have.

      • Tell you what Dave , you can come to my place and but your fingers across the output of my solar panels if you like. Happy to stand back and see how you go. Each one has a micro invertor, producing AC from the panel all daisy chained together. One a good day they easily do 2400W at 240V, eaisly enough to be fatal.

        Significant DC current sources are also something I wouldnt want to be encountering in a chaotic environment either. The fire fighters are quite right to stand back.

      • At a previous company I worked on equipment that monitored solar panels. They were designed to be powered directly from the panels. I had to build a test set up for these little puppies. I had to specially order the 5000 VDC power supply, because most retailers didn’t carry them.

  4. Sorry this piece comes across as simple hatred of Elon Musk. I have no idea whether his claims about these new tiles are accurate – and they do seem far-fetched – but this is simply ad hominid attacks.

      • Criticism = Hatred now, goldminor, due to microaggressions and special snowflakes who melt and self-destruct at the slightest hint of non-thundering approval. We have gone from Nanny State to Ninny State.

      • Just look at the way Willis describes Musk: a liar, deceptive, screwing over Americans, only out to enrich himself, etc.

        ” When Musk’s lips are moving he either counting how much money he has screwed out of the American public, or he’s lying about his upcoming products ”

        ” the man who has made billions with a “b” by sponging off of your taxpayer dollars, the man you can always find face-down at the government trough”

        “I wouldn’t be surprised to find him cozening the public out of yet more money before he runs out of suckers. Nobody ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American greenoisie, and Musk has made a science out of playing to their worst fears.”

        Sounds like a liberal attack on a skeptic.

        Willis please just stick with the facts and stop with the personal attacks.

      • Bill J, I think you misunderstand the nature of an “ad honinem” argument. X is a bad person, therefore X is wrong. Stating why one concludes Elon Musk is the various bad characteristics Willis was referring to him as is not, merely why Mr Eschenbach does not approve of Musk’ business practices.

    • Ad hominid and Ad hominem

      I agree — a little math and professionalism would go a long way. He does seem to be comparing his roof costs to the high end products, but I don’t think I could replace an asphalt roof for $5,500. (I will find out because I need to replace mine in the next few years.) Maybe that is just the cost of the materials, but it still needs to be installed.

      The snarky tone does not really lend it self to credibility.

      • Probably closer to $8000. And check with your insurance company about “approved” brands
        and specs. Not all shingles are approved.

      • In case you were wondering
        Amish roofing cost model. Cost of materials x 3 = installed roof price. 1/3 for materials, 1/3 to remove old stuff, 1/3 to install. Assume typical 25 square roof @ $50./sq = $1250. Total price is $1250×3= $3750 (30 year shingles) (note 1 sq = 10×10). If you live on the coasts add 25-50% for regulations (deposal fees, licenses, extra insurance, etc)

      • Willis didnt engage in an ad hominem argument.
        Musk is a liar and a cheat because he is.
        His solution is bunkum because it is.
        An Ad Hom argument goes like this:
        Anyone who is a bad person cannot be right.
        X is a bad person
        Therefore X isnt right.
        Musk is wrong because he’s wrong, not because he’s a liar and a cheat.
        His roofs will cost more than he claims, and they will present a real risk to fire fighters.
        If he wasnt a rentier, and a parasite, one might be tempted to give him the benefit of the doubt.
        He happens to be a liar and a cheat, but he is wrong for other reasons.
        really.

      • We replaced my sisters roof for around $5,000, and that was with stone coated steel. But we also did the work ourselves. Materials and the rental of a cherry picker to get everything up there.

        As for Musk, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt… just as soon as I see a Tesla Roadster do a battery swap. >¿<

      • I often am at odds with Willis, but in this case I leap to his defence. Ad hominem attacks are attacks made on the person, because you dont like his message.

        This is an attack on Elon Musk, because you don’t like Elon Musk!

        I can relate to that…

    • I missed the bit where he attacked Hominids. There where some significant points made but the name calling really isnt necessary, we dont want to sink to the level of the alarmists.

    • I had one of those ad hominid attacks once. Didn’t half hurt. Those Homo Habilis guys really pack a punch.

    • Actions and claims are fair game for criticism, no matter the tone the critic takes or what personal beef the critic may have. You don’t get to validly claim ad hominem when the critic is judging the action, not the person.

      Also, nothing broadcasts pretensiousness more clearly than a fake Sorry.

      • As someone put it above, ad hominem is where you declare that the person is wrong because he’s a bad person.
        Willis’s argument is more like, Musk is wrong, and that makes him a bad person.
        PS: Willis does an adequate job of demonstrating how and why Musk is wrong.

    • simple hatred of Elon Musk says the Musk fan boy … and no they are not personal attacks unless you consider calling a con man a con man a personal attack …

    • While there are criticisms of Musk as a person, the article covers several reasons why Musk’s latest idea is far afield from reality. So you are ignoring all the reasons and just going with picking on Musk?

  5. I’m also interested to know the answer to several other important issues:
    1. Glass is usually slippery. How are these tiles installed if they are slippery to walk on?
    2. How do professionals determine defective tiles inexpensively? Thermal imaging cameras aren’t cheap.
    3. Who distributes the product? Assuming a range of colors, are roofing suppliers the intended distributors or are electrical suppliers the intended market? Either way, electricians are not roofers and roofers are not electricians.
    4. What product is intended to be on northern roof faces? Does the homeowner revert to a different tile or waste money on a PV product that doesn’t work?
    Personal opinion: More hype from a struggling company.

    • Thermal won’t be able to detect a defective shingle. The only way to do that will be to measure it’s voltage/current output directly.
      There are two ways to do that. Have someone with a meter check each one, either from above or from below. Depending on where the manufacturer puts the test ports.
      The second way is to have a built in sensor that monitors the shingle and reports when it is going bad.
      Both are expensive. The first is cheaper to install but increases maintenance costs.
      The second is more expensive to install but decreases maintenance costs.

  6. Between hail damage and the risk to firemen, not ready for prime time. Furthermore, roofs are not a regular size of equal units, so cutting the “shingles” to size seems impractical.

  7. Musk is indeed a master of milking the public cash cow. Or bilking the taxpayer.

    He used CA tax credits to lease the defunct warehouse of defunct mega millions BK Obama-backed Green scam Solyndra last year. Now he is merging Tesla with his own SolarCity pork project.

    But investors keep giving him more money to play with to enrich himself.

    That said, Tesla cars are fun to drive, with surprisingly peppy performance, and look good.

  8. My roof is available for rental to any solar energy company. They can pay me for my solar energy on the basis of one KW per square meter times a latitude factor. They can keep the electricity they generate for themselves, I don’t need or want it. They of course need to transport it off my roof. If that is by selling it to the electric company, I’ll allow them the space to put their meter to PG&E which must be independent of mine. They of course need full replacement insurance for any damage that might result from their use of my roof.

    Solar city won’t tell you what their panel efficiency is; solar in to on grid AC. I don’t care what their efficiency is, I charge for the raw EM solar incoming energy

    They get the subsidy for the panel on your roof, whether or not you get any net electricity.

    g

  9. In Canada, we quite often have snow covering our roofs all winter. How are these roofs supposed to work when under a foot of snow. Oh yeah, build a heater to melt the snow.

    • Silly David, Canada sees daylight during the winter for, what, 6 hours a day on average? And the sun peeks around 15° above the horizon? It wasn’t like those Solar Panels were going to be doing much even without a foot (30 cm?) Of snow on them.

      ~¿~

      • Indeed.

        The UK has an installed base of something like 10GW of solar panels.

        I have just added as section to the ‘gridwatch*’ website to collect [estimated] solar output.

        The average for November to date is under 600MW. short days, low azimuth…

        I still calculated that that is costing the taxpayer £20m a week give or take. That’s just for the solar…don’t get me started on wind.

        And I have some reason to believe that that is an over estimate, too.

        *http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk

  10. A decent review in my opinion, first 4 minutes go through Musk’s presentation, then it looks at how viable it may be.

  11. Actually, inverters (which change the direct current produced by solar panels into alternating current) cost about the same as solar panels, depending upon type, often cost more. Inverters are needed unless one is dedicating all of the output of the solar roof to a battery and then to an electric car. A typical solar roof has a nameplate capacity of 6Kwatts, although typically will only produce a max of around 4500 watts. The average day’s solar irradiance is around 5 “suns” , or the amount of sunlight one would get from 5 hours of maximum sunshine. 5 X 4.5 kwatts produces 22.5 kWhours. At 10 cents per kWhr, that’s worth about $2.20 per day. Musk 5 weeks ago claimed his car’s battery cost (including packaging, with a cooling system, etc) would run $190 per kWhour
    this year. He also said that his gigafactory would cut battery costs by a third. GM claims $150 per kWhr for their cells (only) in theirelectric cars. Therefore one wonders why his wall mounted battery costs so much, although the inverter would account for much of the cost (i think it always comes with an inverter). His Tesla customers are getting a $7500 Fed subsidy so they can buy a $60,000 and up, (way up) `electric car, which is an energy hog, by the way. Solar shingles are NOT new – they have been around for quite some time. They have been difficult to install because of the need
    for intershingle electrical connections. ANd firefighters sometimes refuse to get on a solar roof, since one can get electrocuted. Regardless, installation costs will be a rather large portion of the costs of solar shingle roofs. Regular solar panels have to have some air space between themselves and the roof, as they get quite hot. And when they heat up, they lose their ability to produce electricity. I have no idea about the characteristics of these shingles. I have no problem with people having solar roofs, but do have a problem with subsidizng the system, and which also has negative effects on the cost of power for others when the grid is forced to accept their unasked for excess power – by doing so, other power generators are forced to operate at lower capacities, which drives up the cost of their power. With Moltex and Transatomic both climinga levelized cost for their molten salt reactors at 2 cents per kWhour, solar roofs ,and all other power technologies,, are not competitive.

    • With Moltex and Transatomic both claiming a levelized cost for their molten salt reactors at 2 cents per kWhour, solar roofs ,and all other power technologies, are not competitive.

      Yeah, that’s what they claim….ain’t gonna happen even with the Trump in charge. There’s far too much regulatory burden on nuclear of any sort to get back to that level of costs.

      That’s the sort of level we were getting out of reactors built in the 70s. Before Marxist inspired anti-nuclear really got a hold, and before 3MI, Chernobyl and Fukushima.

      I engaged in an online conversation with someone about Fukushima., He claimed thousands had died from the radiation released by the reactor., I asked for evidence, and he posted a link to an article about how thousands of people had died from the tsunami . And how Fukushima was a disaster of the first order.

      I engaged in a conversation online with someone who claimed hundreds of thousands of people had died from cancer because of Chernobyl. I aksed for evidence. “The governments lying to us and are covering it up” she said. “Are those the same governments that are paying people to install windmills and solar panels, and telling us that climate change is real and dangerous?” I asked.

      There never was a reply…..

  12. The original purpose of the roof is to make sure that it does not rain in your home. Do these solar roofs prevent leaks? How frequently do you have to clean fallen leaves?

    • More than that – I have a concrete tile roof. It has lasted a LONG time but, like any other roof in the Pacific NW climate moss grows abundantly here. Every year or two I have to get up on the roof and walk all over it scraping all the new moss off. Moss growth surely is not favorable to solar electric generation. Not a word from Musk about moss!

  13. Here in Oz, most rooves are corrugated iron. Some have lasted over 150 years already. Beat that for cost and longevity, and I’ll listen to him.

    • Besides which, there is nothing quite as enjoyable as lying in bed and listening to the rain fall on a tin roof.
      Of course, this doesn’t happen here in Oz anymore because Tim Flannery told us rain will be a distant memory, and we are all going to die, etc etc, etc…..

  14. I am beginning to think Elon wasn’t joking when he said he smoked crack. His ideas might look better through a cracked lens.

      • Musk makes a significantly better gross margin on cars than the industry, he just spends the money on R&D and growth. TTM revenues are up 50 pct over 2015.

        http://financials.morningstar.com/income-statement/is.html?t=TSLA&region=usa&culture=en-US

        Having worked on high end cars for a living, I’m impressed by the Tesla and its manufacturing process a friend has one. As a niche car it is among the tops. Graphene batteries promise to be more energy dense, cheaper and far faster charging.

        In principle I’m against government interference, but then the income tax is interference isn’t it? The Wright brothers managed to build an airplane with the profits of a seasonal, 3-man bicycle shop before the advent of the income tax.

    • Enron wiped the floor for awhile and was loaded with “geniuses.”

      Yes, Tesla has some awesome performance cars…but ranks near the bottom when it comes to reliability.

      Musk’s glowing promises and predictions often don’t come to fruition, either.

      • Michael Jankowski
        November 19, 2016 at 4:56 pm

        Enron wiped the floor for awhile and was loaded with “geniuses.”

        Yes, Tesla has some awesome performance cars…but ranks near the bottom when it comes to reliability.

        Musk’s glowing promises and predictions often don’t come to fruition, either.

        Agree wholeheartedly, just a note to everyone who comments on the performance of electric cars. This is not new and is a “feature” of electric motor driven vehicles. When I was a nipper I can remember jumping on a bus and getting that incredible press into the seat as it set off – and don’t forget this was a fairly well loaded red double-decker trolleybus in London circa 1955 (hooked up to overhead wires).

        SteveT

    • “wiped the floor with them in his market sector”

      Has he indeed? How many cars is that, explicitly by manufacturer in real world car sectors? Not some variation of Tesla electric toy car sector.

      Then subtract all of his subsidies.
      For starters, Just Tesla has sold approximately 160,000 cars via a $7,500 tax rebate.
      That is a subsidy to Tesla and totals $1.2 billion dollars alone. Before we get into Musk’s other subsidized activities.

      • http://www.ibtimes.com/tesla-motors-tsla-1q-2016-sales-14820-model-s-model-x-cars-were-delivered-first-three-2348000

        “But on Thursday the company unveiled its $35,000 Model 3 mid-sized sedan to much fanfare and garnered more than 276,000 pre-orders as of Saturday evening. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said deliveries to early customers will begin at the end of 2017.”

        Pre-orders! That seems to be doing pretty well to me. For a fledgling car company, the growth would certainly be worrying the major car companies. Many of them are doing their own EVs now so they can see the future now even if they couldn’t before.

        Also the 7.5k tax credit isn’t taking money from anyone, rather its a reduction in adding money to the tax coffers for who knows what purpose. If our governments were highly efficient with their tax money, I’d probably be more sympathetic. Its government’s job to set direction and EVs are a good direction IMO.

        Adding that money into the tax system doesn’t stop the systemic problems the US has in helping its poor.

      • Sheer sophistry.

        The tax rebate is direct compensation to the seller, that rightly is included in the seller’s earnings.

        It is a government price reduction stolen from the pockets of citizens for the benefit of Musk, Tesla and the rich.

        “The Palo Alto, Calif., company reported its first profit after 12 quarterly losses amid a push to generate cash for building its $35,000 Model 3. The company has pledged to lift annual production to 500,000 cars in 2018, from about 50,000 last year.

        The quarter’s profit—a record and only the second time ever”

        If Tesla manages to build 276,000 viable working cars beginning 2018.

        Or seek alternative funding.

        “The combined companies may ultimately need to raise $12.5 billion for spending through 2018, according to estimates by Oppenheimer.”

        That is Tesla and Solarcity combined.

        So far to date, Musk keeps raising money for Tesla by issuing new stock. Then spending it at remarkable rates.

        “The company has pledged to lift annual production to 500,000 cars in 2018, from about 50,000 last year.”

        A tenfold increase in car production? What’s he going to do? Build more Tesla plants? Hire GM and Ford plants?
        Not forgetting a loose promise to provide cheaper better Tesla cars… Wait till the full bills are due!

      • It is a government price reduction stolen from the pockets of citizens for the benefit of Musk, Tesla and the rich.

        So not paying tax (by getting a legitimate tax credit) is stealing from citizens?
        How does that work exactly?

      • People get a $7,500 bonus, as incentive for buying one manufacturer’s car.
        $7,500 dollars out of the tax pool that other citizens make up, or it becomes debt for future citizens to pay of.

        Tesla gets the money, then sells carbon credits to other car manufacturers, so those manufacturers can sell real cars to ordinary citizens. Cars that cost more because of the carbon credits paid to Tesla.

        It is not, nor ever will be “free money”. That $7,500 and the additional carbon credits are additional burdens to citizens that are not that well off. Only the rich and Tesla benefit while the burdens are passed to lower incomes.

      • $7,500 dollars out of the tax pool that other citizens make up, or it becomes debt for future citizens to pay of.

        Or it becomes money that the government doesn’t spend elsewhere. The Government is constantly juggling where it spends its money and its not debt unless the Government makes it debt by overspending.

        The US government has been doing a lot of that…the EV tax subsidy shortcoming is a pittance compared to the debt the US government has racked up elsewhere.

      • “… deliveries to early customers will begin at the end of 2017.”

        Don’t you hate it when you go online to buy the latest series of your favourite TV show and find that you actually only pre-ordered it? I did it with NCIS New Orleans once and had to wait 12 months to receive the goods. Meanwhile the company had already billed my credit card. The effective interest involved is very high.

        There is no way in the world I am going to order a car for over 12 months delivery. But, yes, I know there are a lot of true believers and virtue signalers that will. I don’t hold much hope for the human race.

      • “TimTheToolMan November 19, 2016 at 7:21 pm
        Or it becomes money that the government doesn’t spend elsewhere. The Government is constantly juggling where it spends its money and its not debt unless the Government makes it debt by overspending.

        The US government has been doing a lot of that…the EV tax subsidy shortcoming is a pittance compared to the debt the US government has racked up elsewhere.

        Which incompetence at handling money are you explaining?

        The Federal Government borrows monthly. Debt is debt. Facetiously claiming it’s not debt till some unappointed time in the future is shoving one’s head somewhere.

        So, others get to watch their deductions, e.g. medical deductions, get whittled into nothing while dilettante car purchasers can purchase some toy electric cars using big bonus payments; all while all those others trying to make ends meet face increased surcharges due to “carbon credits” that Tesla also owns?

        And your justification is that the rebates and allowances per car purchaser, are pittances against the National budget?

        Sounds like a Snowflake rationale…

      • ATheoK writes

        And your justification is that the rebates and allowances per car purchaser, are pittances against the National budget?

        Pittances against the US occupation in Iraq which costs about 720M per day. Still, according to Trump he’d rather take the oil than let Iran have it.

        http://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-war-anniversary-idUSBRE92D0PG20130314

        Total cost 2 Trillion dollars or so. Now that’s real money and that will impact on your retirement. That’s actual expenditure too, not just lack of income due to tax credits.

      • Obfuscations and straw man distractions Timmytmtm?

        False trails to nowhere!?

        Force ordinary citizens to subsidize rich people’s toys. While the Timmytmtm rants on about any silly piece of nonsense he thinks he remembers. Circular avoidance without ever admitting errors? Timmytmtm clogs his way through a dance of nonsense.
        What a waste of gray matter.

        Methinks he snarks like the connolwee troll.

      • Hivemind: PS, if you should change your mind in the meantime, you can get your money back. It’s a refundable deposit.

      • Tim: Is that really the line you want to go with. That waste doesn’t matter so long as it’s less than some other government expense that you don’t approve of?

    • Agreed, it’s bordering on vitriol and pretty short on sources and analysis.
      For a website dedicated to critical thought and usually balanced (though with a lean) articles, this is almost a rant.
      Basically, instead of sticking solar panels on the roof, these shingles are now part of the roof; all that guff about inverters..? They’re already a mass produced product, pricy, sure, but already a product.

      • Cassandra, perhaps you didn’t notice this part:

        My Usual Request: Misunderstandings start easily and can last forever. I politely request that commenters QUOTE THE EXACT WORDS YOU DISAGREE WITH, so we can all understand your objection.

        I put it in there expressly to discourage people like you from waving their hands and making all kinds of unpleasant accusations about unspecified sins on my part. In your case, it appears I was unsuccessful. Please start over and let us know exactly what it is that you object to.

        And although it is not a rant, yes, it is passionate, I plead guilty to that. From my perspective the problem is not that I’m too passionate. I may indeed be too passionate, but for me, the problem is that most people are nowhere near passionate enough about the poor and the working man being ripped off to line the pockets of the pseudo-green profiteers of all kinds.

        And it’s not bad enough that we give billions to Musk, we also SUBSIDIZE HIS ALREADY VERY WEALTHY CUSTOMERS!!! How come you’re not on about that? We’re subsidizing people rich enough to pay over a hundred grand for a car!

        Anyhow … that’s my rant …

        w.

      • Willis writes

        And it’s not bad enough that we give billions to Musk

        Musk hasn’t been given billions, he’s been allowed to not pay billions in tax for the time being. This is the Government doing what the Government does…give society direction. There’s a huge difference.

        Incidentally if Tesla didn’t exist, Musk wouldn’t have paid those billions in tax either…

      • According to Timttm, Musk would still be irrationally rich, even if the government had not given Musk billions.

        Well, Musk is now worth somewhere around $11.5 Billion. Money for free apparently, just gifted to Musk for creating some products and then selling the companies. Followed up by Musk starting more companies with fancy extreme concepts and convincing government and people to give Musk lots of money.

        A method strongly resembling Ponzi schemes.

        Go ahead and admire such people, if you want.
        Don’t worry, we’ll know you wet your pants and that it isn’t raining when you are convinced it is storming.

        But you really should learn to watch the pea. Musk has billions now, while many people, including the government are wondering where their products actually are.

        And that concept of selling people products a year before they are made; or perhaps better phrased as many months before said cars can be constructed, before machinery is ready, before people are trained, before supplies are located, purchased and delivered… Well, that concept does have a name. Someday, watch the Music Man for a very unusual happy ending version; instead of riding a fence rail, covered in tar and feathers, heading out of town.

      • ATheoK
        November 20, 2016 at 2:30 am

        ……………
        …………….
        And that concept of selling people products a year before they are made; or perhaps better phrased as many months before said cars can be constructed, before machinery is ready, before people are trained, before supplies are located, purchased and delivered… Well, that concept does have a name. Someday, watch the Music Man for a very unusual happy ending version; instead of riding a fence rail, covered in tar and feathers, heading out of town.

        Absolutely right, but you missed out “finish the design”. I think I read somewhere that there are still design issues to be overcome.
        Presumably, the refundable deposit is only refundable if the company is still solvent. From reading between the lines the deposits have been spent on other things, not on solving or setting up the list of things needing to be done above.

        SteveT

      • SteveT: Unsecured debtors, which is what the people who have made these deposits are, are paid last. Unless they can get Obama to ignore bankruptcy laws a certain car company did back in 2008.

    • Electrek is a news site tracking the transition from fossil fuel transportation to electric and the surrounding clean ecosystems.

      I wonder if Electrek receives government subsidies? You know, for independent and impartial review of renewable technologies. Because the evil fossil fuel energy companies squelch all news of their pure, always-cost-sompetitive, never taxpayer-funded competition.

      • What my house had under its shingles were “battens” (I think that’s the word)—planks that lacked the resistance to twisting motion that earthquakes cause, and which gradually levers nails out of their holes.

      • Wikipedia says the commercial production of now-standard 4 by 8 plywood panels in the US began in 1928. My house was built in 1927,

  15. STOP SUBSIDIZING INEFFICIENT TECHNOLOGIES THAT ARE NOT READY FOR MARKET!!

    I agree, with exceptions:

    1. A new technology may need a subsidy. See Nuclear.
    2. The subsidy should be limited to something not exceeding 10 calendar years. That means 10 years for a technology, not 10 years for a company which applies in Year 9.
    3. Alternatively, the subsidy should be structured to disappear after 10 years.

    • The “gotcha” is that the technology, if successful or successfully mythologized, will generate enough income or subsidy to purchase the necessary congress and senate critters to maintain the subsidy long past the time it no longer serves the purpose.

    • And who is to select the “technology” to subsidise ?

      Did the companies established by Mr Benz, Mr Old and Mr Ford receive subsidies ?
      No, they succeeded because because their products [motor cars] were better than other transport options.
      As an unintended consequence their products vastly improved the environments of cities by removing tonnes [ or tons] of horse excrement from streets.

    • If it needs a subsidy, then it isn’t ready for the market.
      The vast majority of new technologies never get a penny in government subsidies yet survived, even thrived, anyway.

  16. If you have a roofer who will install a 40 year shingled roof for $3.80/sq ft, please, please, share the contact with us! You’ll save us all a ton of money!

  17. Asphalt shingles comprise about half of the U.S. roofing market. The average life of a 3-tab asphalt shingle is 15-20 years; architectural laminates have an average life of 25-30 years. The expected lifetime is roughly proportional to weight: 190-240 pounds per square for 3-tab, and 300-360 for architectural.
    To get a reliable roof lifetime of 40-50 years or more you need to be looking at metal roofing products or concrete tile, which are growing in market share. Slate and clay (terra cotta) tile are 100-year products, but extremely expensive and shrinking in market share. Metal roofing is lighter than asphalt, whereas tile and slate are much heavier, typically 600-1000 pounds per square or more. Heavier roofing materials require structural reinforcement. Since re-roofing is the bulk of the market, one consideration would be getting a product that is light enough to be an alternative to architectural shingles without structural reinforcement.
    Hail is one of the primary causes of early failure in asphalt roofs. UL 2218 and FM 4473 test roofing materials for impact resistance, dropping steel balls or firing ice balls with compressed air. Where are the test results?
    PV shingles have the additional complication of requiring connections which represent thousands of potential points of failure. How robust is the design to failure of a shingle? What are the standards to which the connections are designed? Can you walk on them to do ordinary maintenance, or are special procedures required?
    New roofing materials are typically tested in the real world with test installations in parts of the country with different climates. Has this testing started? How does roof deck temperature compare with conventional tiles?
    Will there be a jobsite testing protocol, or will the installer assume that every shingle delivered is PV functional? What kind of time premium is required for installation of the circuitry?
    Lots of questions, but as Willis points out, a taxpayers first response should be to grab their wallet.

    • “How robust is the design to failure of a shingle? ”

      You would have to install them in parralel, not series, which means inverters and transformers are a must.

      • Inverters and transformers are a must anyway.

        But high voltage is preferred because the concomitantly lower current reduces the effect of resistance in the circuitry, and both the cables and the inverter will be subject to far less looses.

      • In series, the loss of a single cell can dramatically decrease the output from the line, or even make the whole line stop producing altogether.
        Think of the older, pre-led Christmas lights. (The small ones, not the big ones.) When one bulb goes out, the whole string goes dead. Then you have to test them one by one to find the burned out one.

  18. Just another move by Musk playing his shell game.

    Give me money for my Teslas…
    While you find out that my Teslas are impractical coal burners I will launch rockets into space so that I can destabilize my critics who think I make cars. I make rockets you dope.
    While you find out that Mars expeditions are another boondoggle, I will roll out solar panel roofing tiles so that you are stuck in the past criticizing my coal-powered cars and space boodoggle. I am a solar power manufacturer. Now that you are complaining about my roofing tile solar collector, I am busy launching my AI project under Hillary Clinton… what? oops….Trump…

    Quick hire more lawyers and accountants. I’ll be in Canada.

  19. “Electricity,” Musk said, “is just a bonus.” This guy is slick, possibly genius. At snakeoil salesmanship. Selling ice to Eskimos would be child’s play for him.

  20. Willis writes

    Next, firemen hate rooftop solar for a good reason.

    The output from solar panels is low voltage. The inverter turns it into high voltage AC but not on the “roof side”. Are you sure its actually a “good” reason?

    Also

    Well, the man who has made billions with a “b” by sponging off of your taxpayer dollars

    There is a certain amount of irony here. Musk’s billions of “taxpayer money” seems to be almost entirely tax credits. That means he’s not paying tax…for the moment. One might ask who really is at the trough here because it seems to me that until Musk’s companies are profitable, he’s simply not filling it for others.

      • Carbon credits aren’t Musk’s doing, he’s just one of many taking advantage of them. Just because they can be sold, doesn’t mean he’s going to sell out for a quick profit. Elon strikes me as someone who is it in for the long haul. He could retire very comfortably right now if he wanted…he’s a driven visionary and I have a lot of respect for the man.

      • tim-
        i saw what part of ‘subsidy’ you failed to understand and i gave you some information to help you out.
        i won’t bother if you are determined to give me earfinger lala over it.

      • gnomis, Tim believes that because delivery costs are less in the US, that therefore we are being subsidized by the energy companies.

    • The output from solar panels is low voltage.

      The output from individual cells is low, but the cells in panels are connected in series, and the panels themselves may also be in series. We are enjoying a splendid sunset at the moment, and my solar output has dropped to zero watts, but the pv voltage still reads 196 volts. Believe me, when the sun is up, it is plenty more than that.

      • juan– if that is so, then what kind of batteries are they charging?
        and where in this scheme is there an inverter and why?

      • Fair enough…but putting them in series is not a necessary feature of Solar Panels. Battery backed ones tend to use low voltage parallel configurations and ultimately we’ll need battery backing to stabilize the grid and optimize generation efficiency at coal fired (for example) power stations.

      • Hi gnomish
        The inverter takes the DC output of the panels and converts it to AC to feed it into the power grid. We commonly refer to house current as 110 or 220 volts, but that’s RMS measurement; peak voltages are considerably higher. (Think 160 for your wall plugs.) Like most grid connections, I have no batteries. Though I hope some day there will be practical batteries that will let me disconnect from the grid entirely. It’s clear that Mr. Musk hasn’t got a solution for that.

        Our local code requires a panel disconnect that is accessible from outside the house. But that only protects the utility workers–that high voltage is still there on the roof and in the conduits down to the inverter. So, out of consideration for the firefighters, we only allow fires at night, when the panels are inactive. : > )

      • Tim,
        He maybe thinks he does. I don’t think his power wall comes close to making economic sense. Seems to me somebody (maybe Willis?) took it apart on WUWT no too long ago.

      • Willis’ analysis was based on current prices of Li-ion batteries. Musk is addressing that one too with his largely automated mega factory that will double the worlds Li battery manufacturing capability. PV panel prices have dropped to the point where they’re becoming viable now. I’d expect the battery price to come down too.

      • tnx, juan.
        i’m wondering if, with battery storage, those cells get connected in series up to line voltage (which consequent lower current) only to be inverted and transformed downward to charge the batteries, you see.
        or would they be run at a lower voltage and higher current to charge the batteries and then inverted and transformed to line voltage.

      • gnomish
        Gotta confess I don’t know zip about the power conditioning strategies of battery systems. I could speculate, but there are likely readers here who are well informed. Maybe Willis….?

      • In fact, there are regions in Nevada, for example the near-ghost town of Silver Peak, where the primary remaining industry was lithium extraction from wells in a deep playa accumulation. Ironically, despite the abundance of the element locally, for some reason, they could not produce it economically enough to keep the town alive. When I was there the bars were shutting down from lack of customers.

      • Timthe Toolman, “Have you ever touched a car battery’s terminals? Plenty of energy and current potential there…”

        Yeah. Now consider a 3.6kw system. At 12v volts that is 300 Amps continuous. A short circuit current would be much higher.

      • lee writes

        Yeah. Now consider a 3.6kw system.

        No you still need a higher voltage for electrocution. Are you familiar with the relevant simple formula I=V/R for DC? V is 12, R is determined by the resistance of the skin, gloves, whatever …basically its another constant in this case and from that you derive I, the current, and its approximately the same for a “3.6kW” Solar system at 12V as it is for a car battery at 12V.

      • “Are you familiar with the relevant simple formula I=V/R for DC? V is 12, ”

        How do you think I calculated 300 Amps? ;)

      • So just for a test, I used my trusty multimeter to work out from thumb to thumb I have a resistance of about 2.6Mohm, that’s across my heart and the kind of path I might make that might kill me…so that means for 12V I can expect about 4.5uW current. Not much at all.

        I’d say from hand to foot would have a considerably higher resistance.

        As you can see from this reference…

        http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2000/JackHsu.shtml

        You need orders of magnitude more DC current to kill.

      • Timthe Toolman, “I used my trusty multimeter”
        Generally 9v. Did you try it after thoroughly wetting your hands? The resistance will be lower.

        Thank you for the reference-
        “Currents of approximately 0.2 A are potentially fatal, because they can make the heart fibrillate, or beat in an uncontrolled manner.”

        4.5uW of current? Did you mean uA(mps).

      • Did you mean uA(mps).

        Yes. And I had moist hands and furthermore pushed the pointy ends of the leads into my skin. It was about as good a connection as one could reasonably expect to achieve.

        Well less than the 0.2A needed…and that’s why 12V is safe.

    • TimtheToolman, “The output from solar panels is low voltage. ”

      Yep and of course high current. Now how does a welder work?

      • ….wearing protective gear… 12V systems are not going to kill you, full stop. Have you ever touched a car battery’s terminals? Plenty of energy and current potential there… Similarly for 24V systems and its only 48V systems that will be at all dangerous and even then you’d have to be unlucky!

        The fireman is on the roof of a burning building. Its not like he’s not doing something very risky!

      • I used to run a broken (leaking) bottle-washer at 24V, and the entire electrical part was continually flooded with water. It worked fine, and there was no risk of electrocution. It eventually failed, only due to corrosion.

      • I can up the ante on this discussion about DC power. I have personally put my hands on bus bars coming off a 48V telephone exchange battery capable of 4800A and I am still here typing. Problems do arise from dropping spanners or aluminium ladders across them , most spectacular.

      • As a friend of min used to say: “It’s the volts that jolt and the mills that killl!”
        With a dry body impedance of more than 2Mohms there’s not much risk, standing soaking wet in a puddle of water different situation.

    • Most grid-tie inverters have no transformer, so the DC input voltage needs to be greater than the 240 Volt AC output. This one, for example https://www.solar-electric.com/lib/wind-sun/SB6-11TLUS-12-specs.pdf Has a maximum 600 Volt DC input. The roof cells are wired in series to get these high voltages. The purpose of the cutoff switch is to protect the power company lineman who is working to restore grid power in an emergency and does not want some residence to energize the lines he is working on. So even if the cutoff switch is open, a fireman could encounter up to 600 V on the house roof.

    • Your point about low voltage is entirely incorrect. Each panel has an array of cells arranged in series. And panels are arranged in series. Series to increase voltage to reduce losses elsewhere.

      Sure a photocell is only a few hundred millivolts, but a hundred in series is not. A typical panel is 12-24V output, and ten of those in series is 120-240V on a fine hot day..and that is enough to kill and burn easily.

      Fireman now understand that, and should come equipped with wire cutters to isolate the panels one from another.

      If there is not some other way to achieve this.

      • PS: The time it takes the fireman to safely deactivate your solar panels, is time that the fire is getting bigger and destroying more of your stuff.

    • yes good reason, high current DC is dangerous. Also all solar installations are not the same, mine is micro invertor based at the panels so 240V starts on the roof

      • DC is more dangerous than AC. With AC, there’s a zero cross over 120 times a second, this makes it easier to break an arc. New regulations require active monitoring for arcs on panels as well as positive disconnect features for when an arc is detected.

    • For someone who pretends to know a lot about solar, you sure don’t know much about solar.
      The output of individual cells is low, but the cells are always mounted in series to produce much higher voltages. For some types of panels, up to 5kVDC.

    • Musk will save the government plenty with his reuseable rockets and competition. Look at the boondoggle Space Shuttle turned out to be!

  21. Sounds like Mr. Musk is using tech similar to what DOW developed years ago. I remember talking to some DOW folks about solar roof shingles, when they were still a new idea, years ago.

  22. You can add that the roof structure in most shingle roofed houses would need to be beefed up to support the far greater weight of tiles. Yet another Elron fantasy to sucker in the gullible, as usual.

    We welcome all supplicants with open arms to the Church of Elontology
    Now please join us for The Musk Prayer

    Our saviour who sleeps in Freemont
    Elon be thy name
    On conference calls
    Thy tell us tales
    of profits that are non-GAAP
    Tweet us this day our daily hype
    and forgive those with bearishness
    as we forgive thee for diluting thy stock
    And lead us not into profitability
    but deliver SolarCity more capital
    For Tesla is the future
    of the auto and for energy
    until institutions sell out
    Then Chapter Seven

    • a roof built for terra cotta tiles is skip-sheeted

      terra cotta is framed differently than shingle or slate roof and it is cheaper than plywood.
      the cost of the framing is irrelevant.




      • this is possible when the roof slope is steep- the load is not the same as on a horizontal member

        this is the usual way for lower pitch tiled roof.

      • BTW that framing is the same that was used for standard 3 tab shingles up until the 1950’s also. The original part of my house, built in 1943, has those 3/4″ x 4″ slats. And no, it never had a tile roof.

      • Skip sheeting is obsolete. Its purpose was to prolong the life of shakes by cooling and drying them from underneath. If you try to get a permit to reroof a skip sheeted house they will make you put plywood over the skip as a structural diaphragm and furr up like another picture.

        Musk’s own house looks great with his “slate” and so would mine. His dormers required a lot more cuts that the simple gables his shingles are usually shown on. My asphalt is 35 years old and a nightmare of hips and valleys. Nevertheless, I would use his slate if 1) they were for sale, 2) the cuts could be done, and 3) I could figure out how to wire several thousand of them together reliably.

      • gnomish, for terra-cotta you need twice as many trusses, at least, plus the trusses have more internal bracing. The cost of a roof structure to support terra-cotta is usually about twice what it is for asphalt. Plus you lose the ability to store stuff in the attic, since it’s full of trusses now.

  23. Good post Willis, electric cars would certainly be contributors to our transportation needs in the personal transport department if the US had kept on track to build and and bring on line ever more advanced nuclear power. The regulatory mission of the NRC is going to need a good old fashioned house cleaning in order to get that rolling again. There is no substitute for a robust power grid for rapid economic advance.

    • Capitalism is a subsidy to build something that one hopes will provide future returns.

      So no, dont ‘stop subsidizing anything’. However the role of the State in subsidy is a different matter. Arguably the state should not subsidize anything.

      • you’re not the only one here who has made up his own language, i see.

        pray, what do you mean by capitalism and what do you mean by subsidy?
        if i go by the dictionary, your statement makes no sense at all…

  24. The folks in River City have their marching band, their monorail…and now they’re ready for a visit from Elon Musk.

    Somebody buy him a chequered suit and bow tie so he can really look the part. (He, er, doesn’t buy stuff himself. He has certain principles.)

  25. What an article. Regarding “billions with a “b” by sponging off of your taxpayer dollars” do you have source? According to Bloomberg they’ve paid off their loan, has Ford and Nissan? In which case, is it a valid argument?

    So, next, what subsidises are you talking about? the gigafactory? In which case many cities tempt businesses by offering less-tax-payable, in which case, not really a loss, more like less gain – but balanced by local construction, local jobs etc etc, this is a frequently used mechanism.

    So I agree that subsidies for any businesses are bad – but loans – that will hopefully be paid back, I’m less worried about them.

    Now, the tiles, your worry is “First off, glass is heavy” and thus worry about shipping. But in your quoted article Musk is specifically paraphrased as saying ‘…weigh as little as a fifth of current products…’ seems like a bit of a saving there. There’s also a material test involving traditional vs tesla roofing. It seems to hold up OK.

    Your entire article seems to be a little to fervent……

    • Cassandra, I discussed the source and the full details of the money upthread.

      And yes, Musk says that they weigh “as little as a fifth of the current products”. I showed that he is talking about slate, and discussed the weight of slate and the shipping costs. My point is clear—weighing a fifth of slate will save very little money in shipping costs compared to say asphalt shingles or aluminum roofing.

      And yes, from your perspective I’m too fervent. From my perspective, however, most folks aren’t fervent enough about smooth-talking green-spouting charmers bellying up to the public trough.

      w.

    • Cassandra says: “According to Bloomberg they’ve paid off their loan, has Ford and Nissan? In which case, is it a valid argument?” Ford never got a federal loan. They weathered the business downturn by selling off their interest in Mazda and their ownership of Jaguar and Volvo. As for Nissan, they are not a U.S. company and received no loan.

    • I just had about 25 squares of architectural asphalt shingle roof installed on a house for under $300/Square. For 3000 SF, it would be $9,000. I don’t know where Consumer Reports is getting its number from.

      • $275 a square for a weekend warrior or storm chaser who works without any liability insurance and does not have any worker’s comp or pay taxes.
        up to $750 per square for a fully warrantied job completed by a high-end exterior remodeling company.

      • Gnomish…

        Nope…a real contractor with liability insurance and everything (I live in RI). The labor part of it was about $55 a square. New roof…no rip off. It is a good price, I know, but not some weekend warrior.

        I have extensive experience with this stuff. This was a good price but not ridiculously low.

      • please excuse my laziness to make such generalizations.

        having the experience of first hand information in st louis, houston, los angeles and seattle as well as your present home, would you say your anecdote represents an average that would be useful for consumer reports magazine to use in to estimate job cost for someone in another location?

    • Thanks for the link, Gnomish. From their article:

      Bottom line: For sure, $70,000 to $100,000 is a lot to spend on a roof. If Tesla’s roofing tiles end up priced that high, it will be because consumers will essentially be paying for long-term electricity costs up front, according to Musk’s formula. And even if Solar Roof products cost less than our estimates, it will most certainly be initially aimed at the luxury home market.

      Natural slate may be the easiest alternative for Tesla to beat from a pricing perspective, since its expense is largely due to the fact that the material is very heavy and hard to work with. If the Tesla slate is lightweight and easy to install, it could be a cost-effective option.

      But that’s a big if. “Roofers aren’t electricians and vice versa, so I’m most interested in seeing how the costs of labor affect the end price to consumers,” says Vikram Aggarwal, CEO of EnergySage, an online marketplace of solar installers.

      No word from Tesla on whether it will back its Solar Roof like some installers do slate—with a 100-year warranty. Or stick with a more typical 25-year warranty.

      Musk ended his announcement at Universal Studios in Los Angeles by asking: “So, why would you buy anything else?” The question was rhetorical, obviously, but the answer will have a lot to do with price.

      Spending $70,000 to $100,000 on a freakin’ roof? This is the solution to our energy problems? And how does this accord with Musk’s claim that you pay for the roof and the electricity is free?

      w.

      • $70,000 to $100,000 doesn’t even show up on the bell-curve (this chart is just asphalt shingles – double for steel – triple for slate..

      • Willis…you are exactly right. This whole thing about these tiles being “cheap” or something is just plain absurd.

      • Maybe they could warranty the structure for 100 years. However, long before that 100 years is up, those panels won’t be producing any electricity at all.
        Normal panels are warrantied for 40 years or less, and experience has shown that they wear out a lot faster than that.

    • Even though slate is the most expensive, after 100 years all you have to do is renew the nails and you get another 100 years at the cost of nails and labour.

  26. John Hardy November 19, 2016 at 4:27 pm Edit

    I object to this bigotted rant. The 4.9 billion is from a highly disputed LA times article from last year, discussed here: https://electrek.co/2016/04/20/elon-musk-bet-sun-ceo-scott-mcnealy-that-tesla-gov-subsidies/. Musk has many enemies especially the US auto industry. I think the guy is brilliant. He has invaded the space of BMW Merc, Cadillac etc and wiped the floor with them in his market sector. Not bad for a newbie

    John, just for future objections, it’s “bigoted”, not “bigotted”. In any case, thanks for the article. However, you didn’t follow it through to the actual analysis itself.

    Their main objections are “but that subsidy is not to Tesla, it’s to the whole electric car industry” or “it’s not a subsidy, it’s a tax break” … I’m sorry, John, but none of their objections convert a subsidy into a non-subsidy. It’s all money out of the taxpayer’s pocket.

    The funniest part is that you seem to think that pointing out that an entire industry is eating at the government trough means that Musk is not getting a subsidy … all that proves is that he’s not the only one getting a subsidy, and that makes it worse, not better.

    They also make the hilarious claim that for half a billion of the money,

    This figure comes mainly from the sales of ZEV credits. The most important thing to understand about this program is that the money is not coming from tax payers, but from other car manufacturers.

    John, they appear not to have noticed, but you must know, that such taxes on manufacturers are directly passed on to the consumer in the form of increased vehicle prices. OK, so it’s not the taxpayers in this case being ripped off to make Musk rich, it’s the consumers of automobiles, which is like … all of us. So it is just another damn subsidy, except in this case it is consumers rather than taxpayers who is paying the bill.

    If those are the only objections to the LA Times article, I’m sorry, but I’m going with the LA Times reporters over some blogger’s weak objections that it’s tax breaks and not subsidies and besides everyone’s doing it …

    w.

    • Willis writes

      It’s all money out of the taxpayer’s pocket.

      No its not. Its a reduction of tax income to the government which could impact a government’s ability to provide services but the US government has an enormous number of places where it could cut its spending and have orders of magnitude greater impact than EV tax subsidies.

      • No. Nor do I own a Tesla.

        I do, however support our move towards renewable energy and electric cars and align with Musk’s vision. I dont believe AGW is going to be catastrophic and think the immediate benefits of CO2 outweigh the possible future risks and am not opposed to using fossil fuels for as long as it takes to make the transition. I also dont believe we need to aggressively transition but I do believe we need incentives to make it happen because we need to be heading there.

      • TimTheToolMan November 19, 2016 at 8:34 pm

        … I also dont believe we need to aggressively transition but I do believe we need incentives to make it happen because we need to be heading there.

        Unfortunately, what you are really saying is:

        … I also dont believe we need to aggressively transition but I do believe in taking money out of Willis’s retirement fund to make it happen because we need to be heading there.

        Tim, I fear your judgement on where we “need to be heading” is not sufficient justification for taking my hard-earned retirement money out of my pocket. Go dun someone else, or pay for the “incentives” your own dang self, I’m not interested.

        w.

      • Willis writes

        taking money out of Willis’s retirement fund

        And how exactly is that happening with these tax incentives, Willis?

      • Dont be silly. Anything that reduces taxes in one place demands increased taxes in another. Unless you cut public spending.

      • Leo Smith writes

        Dont be silly.

        I’m not. Unless Willis expects to receive money from the government for his retirement, my question stands.

        Musk built a battery factory and car factory has directly employed people…people who can use some of that money for their retirement. Also his factories are bringing back some manufacturing to the US. That’s got to be a good thing too as far as ongoing employment.

        If none of that had happened no tax would be paid, either. So how is it a loss to Willis that he’s doing this?

      • It’s not a subsidy if the government is able to make up the cost by cutting some other program.
        That’ has to be one of the stupidest things I’ve read today.

    • Anyone who actually believes that we have to transition to electric cars has demonstrated an inability to think rationally in the first place.

  27. Sorry, Willis: not wrong, but not fully correct.

    “I greatly doubt that the largest cost of a slate roof is shipping … digging the slate out of the ground is a major cost.”

    Unfortunately, slate is such heavy freight, only rich folks can afford to pay for slate shipped from far away.
    Slate is stone, and like marble slabs/blocks, the biggest costs are in shipping.

    Unlike granite or even marble, most slate is rather easy to quarry and shape. They use light blasting charges in lines of drilled holes to break free long wide rows of slate blocks.
    These slate blocks are picked up by larger pallet lift vehicles and brought to the saws.
    Slate layers are split out and the sheets are gang sawn to usable length/widths.

    Roofers easily and quickly saw roof slates to size, or as is traditional use of a slate hatchet.

    Most sellers and installers of slate roofs try to source their slate locally. Only those selling exotic slate types happily ship slate far.

    • Thanks, Theo. While you say that compared to marble and granite “slate is rather easy to quarry and shape”, that’s a very, very low bar—marble and granite are both very difficult. But even with soft stone, by the time you have drilled a long row of holes in the ground and moved everyone out of the area and filled the drill holes and shot it off and come back and cleaned up the mess, you already have bucks involved. And you’ve only started the whole process of producing a finished slate

      For example, here’s data from an actual installation:

      COSTS: 2,240 Square Feet SYP Tongue and Groove Decking = $2,476.80; 26 Squares Vermont Royal Purple, Random Width = $8,450.00; Slate Shipping, >1,400 miles = $1,700.00

      SOURCE: Traditional Roofing Magazine

      Note that although shipping the slate is expensive (shipping the slate further than 1,400 miles cost them $1,700), the end result is that shipping is only 17% of the cost of the slate

      So I stand by my claim that the largest cost of a slate roof is NOT shipping …

      My best to you,

      w.

      • Willis:
        I believe you misunderstood my statement.

        Yes, granite is very hard to quarry. Drilling holes is slow in granite.
        Marble is softer and a little easier than granite, only mud saws are generally used to slice out blocks from the quarry face.

        Slate is soft. You can drill it with ordinary drills and slice it with circular saws, if you don’t mind the dust.
        No diamond equipment needed. Slate is very common, in many areas.

        Granite may be common, but good solid attractive granite isn’t always available; and there is a lot more expensive equipment required along with hard work involved.

        I’ll stand by my statements.
        Slate is relatively cheap when bought locally and quite inexpensive when bought at quarries. If one chooses to buy the discounted pallets offered by the quarry.
        I grew up in Pennsylvania and am currently near a couple slate quarries in Virginia.

        2,600 sq ft of roof (26 squares X 100sq ft= 2600 sq ft) at $3.25 per square foot.
        If a square foot of slate is compared to a square foot of marble at the big box stores; that $3.25 is near the cheaper marbles and travertines. A rather irrational cost per sq. ft. when abundance and ease of quarrying is considered for slate.
        Somewhere along the way, that Vermont purple morphed into expensive slate through middle men and marketing.
        Direct freight shipping does add 65.3 cents per square foot.

        Now some company ordered this slate and is likely responsible for installation. That freight charge is likely business-business and what is actually charged the customer will be a retail shipping cost.
        It cost me $300 to ship a 250lb band saw from the west coast to the East coast. So, I find it very hard to believe a home owner is going to get charged so cheaply for multiple tons of freight.

        Paying for slate installation will be the bulk of the cost. Especially guys whose specialty is repairing and reroofing historical type buildings.
        I’ll still believe that shipping is the second highest cost, baked in somehow. Picking up slate a pallet at a time via pickup truck is cheapest.

        I forgot to state, good article Willis!

      • Thanks, Theo. Look, I said that transport was NOT the major cost of slate. You questioned that.

        I provided actual stats from a real job where the slate was trucked more than 1400 miles and the shipping was only 16% of the delivered cost of the slate.

        Until you provide actual stats from a real job showing I’m wrong, I’ll say it again. The shipping is not the major cost compared to the cost of the slate itself. You have not provided one hard fact to dispute my claim. I fear what it costs to ship a band saw has little to do with a pallet of slate.

        … OK, I just got an online freight quote. San Francisco to Phoenix, 750 miles, twelve squares of slate, 800 pounds per square,, $751.00. Per my previous quote, the cost per square (100 square feet) of the slate is $325 (or $3.50 per square foot). So the cost of twelve squares of slate is $3900. This means that shipping costs for slate from Phoenix are about 16% of the cost of the delivered slate. This is the same order of magnitude, and although it is not as far, it’s still Phoenix to San Francisco.

        So I still stand by my claim. Even if I’m shipping the slate from San Francisco to Phoenix, the shipping cost is NOT the major cost.

        w.

      • Re quarrying granite and marble, it’s almost all done these days using diamond wire saws at major quarries. I’ve consulted in the business and built my own quarry and plant in eastern Ontario, Canada. I also built a stone quarry and plant in Tanzanian using the old drilling off and splitting out of blocks with ‘plugs and feathers’ and stabbing using twisted steel wire with grit, mud and water (The gov wanted a labor intensive op- They got it!!)

      • Gary Pearse November 19, 2016 at 8:42 pm

        Re quarrying granite and marble, it’s almost all done these days using diamond wire saws at major quarries. I’ve consulted in the business and built my own quarry and plant in eastern Ontario, Canada. I also built a stone quarry and plant in Tanzanian using the old drilling off and splitting out of blocks with ‘plugs and feathers’ and stabbing using twisted steel wire with grit, mud and water (The gov wanted a labor intensive op- They got it!!)

        Thanks, Gary. Impressive, in particular the Tanzania chapter …

        w.

  28. “Much of the cost savings Musk is anticipating comes from shipping the materials. Traditional roofing materials are brittle, heavy, and bulky. Shipping costs are high, as is the quantity lost to breakage. The new tempered-glass roof tiles, engineered in Tesla’s new automotive and solar glass division, weigh as little as a fifth of current products and are considerably easier to ship, Musk said.”

    At about $75 a square (including manufacturing, wholesale and retail mark up, sales tax, and shipping), there isn’t much room in there for savings due to shipping.

    Elon Musk is good at one thing…attracting capital. Tesla will be out of business within five years.

  29. Tesla’s engineers are great, but are working on something that makes about zero basic financial sense.

    Solar powered highways, Solar powered shingles, I guess next is solar powered umbrellas to power your cell phone. I can imagine the hype, “Muskbrellas! Umbrellas you can use on rainy AND sunny days!!!”

    And lets not forget Musk’s Hyperloop, the fantastically stupid idea of maintaining a vacuum in miles of tubing, with people filled capsules jetting through at about 700 miles per hour. Yeah that seems safe, maintainable and financial viable.

    His initial money was in the dotcom boom. Making web applications is not the same level of difficulty as building machinery that overcomes the laws of physics. Private investors and public institutions have to stop giving money to this scam artist as charming as he may be.

    • How quickly can they fill that tube with air if one of those shuttles should crash?
      That’s assuming anyone in the shuttle survived the explosive decompression in the first place.

  30. Well one thing you can say for the solar roofing is that is sure makes one hell of a lot more sense than solar road ways!

  31. Willis,
    It would be wise to wait for more details before being so critical. Ordinary glass has a UTS of >600,000 psi. It is fragile in normal use because the surface is covered with micro cracks that are perfect stress raisers and the material can’t yield to spread the stress.
    Common thermal toughening provides a deep compressive surface layer to hold the cracks closed and locks up a lot of energy. Ion exchange allows the compressive stress to be very thin. (Used on aircraft windshields)
    Glass is basically very cheap to make and if Musk has come up with a better way of toughening it, could make an ideal material for roofs. Toughened tiles should be strong enough to withstand hail, the PV surface will protect the surface and they should last for centuries. I doubt the PV would though.
    For example it is possible to make a glass can with a 20 thou wall thickness that you could flex in your fingers and bounce off the floor, using what I called dynamic toughening, but of course nobody is doing it.

    • Adrian Ashfield November 19, 2016 at 7:34 pm

      Willis,
      It would be wise to wait for more details before being so critical.

      Thanks, Adrian, and you’re likely right … but then when was I ever wise? When the paper about the ocean losing half its plankton came out I condemned it immediately without any details. Six months later the details came out, and I was shown to be right. Go figure.

      In this case, we have a man who has never been able to build a business that was not massively subsidized by the public. He’s offering again what is a very high-end product aimed at the wealthiest of homeowners. Do you think it is accidental that he has released so few details, just a boast that the electricity will be free? He wants to keep people from knowing as long as possible.

      So I ask you, Adrian, even if I wait for more details, and even if when the details come in this proves to be the whiz-bang expensive product for the man with more money than sense, WHY SHOULD MY TAXES SUPPORT IT? We made the change from water power to wood and steam, and from wood to coal, and from coal to oil, without any government subsidies and without dipping into the taxpayers’ pocket. On the other hand, we’ve poured billions into solar power, and wind power, and sparky cars, and they are STILL not competitive in the market. And even if they are marginally competitive in some locations, how long until they repay the billions we’ve already sunk into them? As a business model, this sucks bigtime for everyone except Elon.

      That was my main point, and that doesn’t change by waiting for more details.

      Finally, I’m always playing what I call a “long game”, meaning that I often have more than one hope for my writing. Part of my intention here was to stir up controversy and to encourage people to take a reality-based look at the few details Musk has given us and see if they make sense. And in that, I’ve succeeded beyond my hopes.

      Best to you,

      w.

      • Willis,
        “WHY SHOULD MY TAXES SUPPORT IT?”
        It is not an easy question to answer. I think LENR (cold fusion) is real and three companies now say they will make a commercial reactor in 2017, If one does so solar power will become like the Dodo. No one else on this site seems to think LENR is possible and several have written about how foolish I am to think it is.
        So I think any investment in solar power will be wasted. Is it any more of a waste of your money than spending 1.6 trillion dollars a year (2015) on the military, as much as the next seven countries put together? How about Space X? That wouldn’t happen without government funds. Do you think an insurance policy for human survival with an off world base is worth a dime?

        I seem to have a minority view about the economic situation in the US. I think the real unemployment is higher than the government’s claim of <5% (there are 94 million Americans not working) and that it will get higher due to AI and robotics. There will not be enough new jobs for those laid off and more education will not help much.
        Ultimately something like Universal Basic Income (UBI) will be required to avoid riots or a dictator. If you don't like Musk getting government funding how about UBI? I find it more aesthetically pleasing to use the money for "worthwhile" projects than simply giving it away or spending it on the military. On the other hand. I like the thought of the individual choosing how to spend the money (that happens with UBI). It's complicated.

      • “Ultimately something like Universal Basic Income (UBI) will be required to avoid riots or a dictator.”

        Only a dictator can give you a ‘Universal Basic Income’, because it makes absolutely zero economic sense.

        Yeah, right, I’ll build a fully-automated robot factory to build stuff, and then I’ll give money to people so they can buy the stuff I make, so I’ll get me back a small fraction of that money. LOL.

        Sheer lunacy. But it’s the ‘last best hope’ for Communism, which is why all the Commies are pushing it now.

      • “If UBI is madness, when the unemployment rate reaches 40 or 50% how are the unemployed supposed to live and eat?”

        Most of our ancestors were never employed. Most of them didn’t starve, unless dictators stole all their food.

        Leftism is an industrial-era ideology, so it’s stuck in an industrial-era mindset. So, when someone says ‘pretty soon, robots will be able to do anything!’ leftists don’t think ‘oh, wow, that’s great, I won’t have to work any more!’, they think ‘EVIL CAPITALISTS will be able to PUT THE WORKERS OUT OF JOBS!’

        Let’s start from first principles here. If I’m Evil Capitalist, owner and sole employee of Robots That Make Everything, Inc, there is no economic reality in which giving $100 to Joe Unemployed so he can buy $100 of stuff from me that costs me $80 to make, thereby leaving me with $20 of that $100 I gave him makes any economic sense as a long-term strategy. All it does is make me poor.

        So, if Valiant Dictator then tells me I have to do that, I either shut the factory down, or, more sensibly, build an army of a billion killer robots, and take over the world. In no circumstances do I just bankrupt myself making stuff for people who have nothing to offer in return.

        Hence, in Left-Wing-World, the giant robot factory fantasy ends with Evil Capitalists building billion-robot armies and killing everyone who opposes them.

        Sorry.

        Back in the real world, if robots can do anything, then anyone who has a robot can do anything. If you have a robot and raw materials, you will be able to get the robot to build anything you want (including making food in a vat in your basement). There will be no Robots That Make Everything, Inc, because there’s little value to a centralized robot factory if everyone can have a robot of their own.

        The only people who’ll be upset about this are the left, because no-one will want socialism in a world where the ‘workers’ own the means of production. Their ideology cannot survive in a post-industrial world where people just build whatever they want, themselves, which is why they’re pushing for a dictator who’ll give them Free Money for doing nothing, as a last-ditch attempt to stave off reality.

        But, as mentioned above, that just ensures they’ll end up with a dictator with a billion killer-robot army who’s tired of being forced to make stuff for everyone else.

      • Entirely too much logic in that comment. Bad dawg, no biscuit! Socialism, like Globall Warmining, is a religion, as such both deny reality. Rolling reality up like a newspaper and beating them with it is simply ineffective. Starvation might break them out of their zombie-like stupefaction, although I doubt it, has not worked in Zimbabwe. Or Venezuela. Or,,,,,,,well, you get the picture.

      • AA.“If UBI is madness, when the unemployment rate reaches 40 or 50% how are the unemployed supposed to live and eat?”

        MG. Most of our ancestors were never employed. Most of them didn’t starve, unless dictators stole all their food.”

        Ah. You think half the modern population can survive by running a garden on land they don’t have: don’t need the fancy toys like TV, internet & cell phones or require medical help when they get ill. All is now clear.

        It may surprise you that I’m not a socialist. But I don’t want my daughter to live through a violent revolution, nor do I think the 50% unemployed will vote for a government that does nothing for them. You do understand that the proposition is there will not be paying jobs for them? (Federal and State governments now employ 10 million more than in manufacturing.)

      • The only reason why unemployment rates are rising is because government is making it too expensive to hire workers.

      • 150 years ago, 95% of the population worked on farms.
        Thanks to automation, that number has dropped to less than 5%. So obviously the other 90% are now unemployed.

      • Adrian, except when government gets involved, automation makes products cheaper. Which means less work is needed to purchase them.

      • MarkG,
        I see four replies but you have still failed to answer the question.
        If not UBI how else are the 50% unemployed going to survive?
        You may argue that there will be new jobs, but that doesn’t help if there are not, which was the proposition..

  32. I want to know when Elon is going to create the first viable “flux capacitor” and the “Mr. Fusion” green waste reactor?

    • Green Waste reactor?

      Round here we use the same crematoria as for normal folks. Nothing special about Green corpses – not even the Odor of Sanctity…:-)

  33. The Villain with renewable subsides is the government and not the people taking advantage of them. People are trying to make Musk out as a mercenary when he’s just an opportunistic businessman (is that redundant?). And subsidies aren’t always a bad thing. In this case they are because it’s based on a false premise that promotes an ideology. I’m real curious about the actual cost they come up with. I certainly don’t believe for a second that PV shingles with electric connections can be made cheaper than even clay/ceramic shingles so I think he’s blowing some major smoke with that statement. How they interconnect and feed to the inverter should be interesting. Who cares if they last 100 years if the PV only lasts 20?

  34. There is little doubt we will eventually go electric for transportation since fossil fuels will run down, although they did just find 20B bbls of new resources in west Texas and potential remains high elsewhere (Gulf of Mexico deep reserves of a similar volume, etc).
    I’m all for continued development of batteries for the purpose but we should be using the cheapest reliable energy available to make it as economic as possible. Subsidizing both high cost energy sources and the transport tech to use it is idiocy.

    Trump says he’s going to bring coal back and go gungho on O&G but I think he will need some good support on this as I’m not sure he’s other than a contrarian on the subject. Re windmills, I think we would quickly run short of neodymium and dysprosium. If the US can weather the storm against common sense, the rest of the world will follow US’s lead despite the threats we hear. With the cats so long away, the mice have made a he’ll of a mess of things.

    • Electric trains – definitely. Electric cars – no until we get a good battery. Or maybe a good fuel cell.

      • There is one possible battery that might enable adequate range – basically as far as you can drive without stopping for a break long enough to recharge, and that can be up to 600 miles or more – and that’s lithium air. In theory the energy density is there, enough that battery powered airliners could work. In practice its a vile technology and no one has got it to work properly and safely.
        The simple thing to do when fossil fuel price point rises above a given level, is to make hydrocarbon fuel from cheap (Coal? Nuclear?) power of some sort. Using CO2 and water as inputs. Or with coal, using coal and water is inputs.

        If we really decided to go that route, we would use uber cheap nuclear power driving various chemical synthesizers.

        It would be very expensive even so, but it is probably the way things will happen. Hydrocarbon fuel has ideal properties of energy density, ease of transport and storage, reasonable safety and pre-existing distribution infrastructure and end user technology to make use of it. .

        IN short making gasoline kerosene and diesel equivalent products with cheap nuclear power will be stacked up against best BEV technology and may the best man win.

    • “There is little doubt we will eventually go electric for transportation since fossil fuels will run down”

      There will still be vast amounts of fossil fuels in the ground when we stop using them for transport. Drones, VR and local manufacturing will make mass transport obsolete well before the fossil fuels run out.

      We will probably go electric for the remaining transport users, but only because it’s much easier to 3D print an electric car than a gas car when you need one.

    • @Gary Pearse:
      I agree with you on electrics. As you are well aware, electric vehicles have been around for over 100 years. I am in danger of repeating myself on this site for the umpteenth time but Zermat, Switzerland has been all electric (or horse) powered for years. Mining and manufacturing has been using electric vehicles above and below ground for all my 70 years and probably longer. The largest electric powered machinery used in mining can be up to 6 megawatts. http://tractors.wikia.com/wiki/Dragline

      Someday, Arizona cities will have real electric cars running about rather than all the retired folks running around in their golf carts in their resorts.

      Meanwhile I think it will be a long time before there are electric trucks and tractors running around on the farm so there will be diesel storage tanks about long after all the people on this site have crossed the River Styx.

      Of course, maybe we will go back to coal fired steam railway engines along with LNG after we don’t have diesel – or maybe we’ll have small nuclear running trains or electric trains in North America in a few hundred years.

      Meanwhile, I think I’ll keep my diesel truck and flatbed.

      It might be useful for hauling recycled wind turbine parts in a few years.

    • That’s one possibility. Another possibility is that we will find some other way to make the liquid fuels these cars require.
      Regardless, we don’t need to worry about it for at least 100 years.
      Our great grandchildren can solve the problem using technology we haven’t even dreamed of yet.

  35. I can imagine the complex connections involved in networking all these solar panels; just envision all of the wiring and connectors that need to be made and waterproof. A few problems are quite obvious. If a panel’s connection is lost, how can it be located and fixed. I can see, from the hundreds of panels on a roof, that failures would be rather regular due to wind, snow, ice, pelting rain, animals looking for food, etc.. Then, there is the problem of keeping the panels clear. Everything from bird poop, leaves, and dirt will degrade performance, often radically. People need to understand that solar panels need constant maintenance. And, then there is the fact that, no matter where these panels are installed on a house, their performance depends on the latitude and the orientation of the house and will also vary with the season. It maybe that only one side of a roof should be solar panel tiles.

    I believe there was a section of solar panel road put into experimental operation and the rate of panel failure was quite high.

  36. What Musk Car, Musk Mars, Musk Rocket and Musk Roof have in common is Ponzi Scheme.

    Elon might as well propose a Solar Power Pisser (in Austria at train stations the Pisser is the Male Toilet). Sort of goes with his South Africa Heritage eh!

  37. As I’ve mentioned several times, electric cars, when charged at night by Alternative Power (that source from where the sun don’t shine or the wind don’t blow) is not much more energy efficient than an IC car. But lets be fair, here. The railroads would never have been built if the govt didn’t subsidize them (with almost free land rights) and the roads wouldn’t have replaced the rails if the government had not paid for most of the roads ahead of time. Ditto battery technology, wind turbines (ugh!) and solar cells. A subsidized, forced markets MAY bring economies of scale and innovation, eventually resulting in good economics. Solar, by these factors, even with pumped storage or batteries, is economic in areas where new powerlines are the only alternative.

    • on what basis do you assert that the railroads would not have been built without ‘free land’ subsidies?
      railroads came first.
      i also have reason to doubt your claims about any and all other statements you made unless you can affirmatively substantiate them
      nor will i accept as valid any claim that a value was produced if the price was far in excess of the cost or if humans were robbed in the process.
      if you have 20$ taken from you and you get back 1$, that’s not production- it is sacrifice.
      (that was alan greenspan’s estimate, btw)

    • The rail system would been built with or without the land grant system. Do please recall that the Federal government had too much land over a vast territory. Rails offered the fastest high tech solution to provide rapid movement, and governance, over huge areas. The government traded a fractionally small bit of empty land for access and freedom of movement and received back a continental nation. Musk, as far as his climate obsessed business, is doing none of that.

      • at the time the government gave away the land to anyone that would use it to farm, ranch or build railroad tracks … giving away somethiung you didn’t pay anything for and that you don’t charge anyone for is hardly a subsidy …

      • The Great Northern was built to the U.S. west coast without a land grant subsidy. It was the only transcontinental railroad that never went through a bankruptcy. It later merged with the Burlington to become the Burlington Northern, then merged with the Santa Fe to become BNSF, one of today’s most successful railroads that pays property tax on its rights-of-way.

    • “The railroads would never have been built if the govt didn’t subsidize them (with almost free land rights)”

      If I recall correctly, the U.S. government was granting the railroads all the land a mile deep on either side of the tracks they laid. Although when the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) railroad was built through Indian territory, they were only given 100 feet on each side of the track they laid.

      The way the Katy won the right to cross Indian Territory is a pretty interesting story in itself (they cheated a little bit with the help of some Indian friends).

      I used to work for the Katy railroad before they got swallowed up by the Borg (UP Railroad). Busiest single track railroad west of the Mississippi river, and only one, east of the river, was busier, and it was automated traffic control(CTC). We ran trains like you wouldn’t believe. And we ran them using train orders, radios, and human station operators coordinating with dispatchers, not CTC or computers. It was hard work and a lot of fun. It really taxed every ability you had and was a challenge every day because the situation was constantly changing and you had to adapt on the fly.

    • In the 1800’s, companies were building canals for transportation without a single penny of government subsidy. Canals are a lot more expensive than railroads.
      The government wanted railroads in order to open up the west faster. The railroads were already following the people. The government wanted the railroads to go where there were no people in hopes that the people would follow them.
      Railroads would have been built, it would just have taken a few extra decades.
      The same goes for roads.

  38. The cost of utility scale solar is on course for 20 cents per watt and selling price at 32. The non panel cost of utility scale is also falling from drastic cuts in construction employment and larger format panels which you will never hear about from solar advocate groups or Musk or politicos claiming green job counts. Facts in the solar biz are inefficiently distributed much like the still emerging sector itself and the usual chaotic system called energy policy.

    • It really is fascinating the way you acolytes plop into any thread dealing with your peculiar religion, without reading any of the previous posts, and then repeat nonsense that has already been refuted multiple times.

  39. The idea of having roofs and even walls made of solar panel material is a very good idea and will hopefully eventuate even with a few hiccoughs along the way.

  40. Plywood roofs and asphalt shingles. First time I went to the U.S. I thought the whole place looked good but was built like a movie set.
    I find Musk annoying. Obviously bright and doing great work at SpaceX but seems to have fallen for global warming hoax, hook, line and sinker.

    • The ‘trougherati’ care not about AGW. The only care about how much money they can suck out of the trough before everybody figures it out.

  41. Hi Willis

    Yes, I’m sorry I didn’t quote what I disagreed with; I’d seen other comments (only a few) suggesting the tone of the article was quite critical – but without quotes so thought mine would be ok.

    Here are my disagreements and quotes. I feel I should point out I’ve been reading this blog for years, and usually find it balanced (but sceptical where possible) but I fell you’ve missed the mark. Certainly Musk fervently believes in climate change, but this shouldn’t affect any analysis of Tesla action.

    “made billions with a “b” by sponging off of your taxpayer dollars”
    “always find face-down at the government trough”
    “we should not make some guy insanely wealthy by subsidizing sparky cars which are NOT economically viable”
    “Musk has received $4.9 billion dollars in taxpayer subsidies”

    OK, let’s say the above were written by me saying climate change was real. I would be overwhelmed by question regarding my sources. What are your sources?

    My search finds data relating to their Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program loan:
    “Tesla Motors has received approval for about $465 million in low-interest loans from the US Department of Energy to accelerate the production of affordable, fuel-efficient electric vehicles.” (20 April 2010)
    Paid it all back, with interest, by 22. May 2013

    The LA Times article regarding subsidies is too full of numbers to quote here, but I feel that there’s a major difference between Tesla getting a subsidy or incentive, available for any applicable company, vs a Tesla *specific* subsidy. Other companies would have tilted at these incentives, they’re not Tesla specific.
    (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hy-musk-subsidies-20150531-story.html)

    Additionally, Musk *specifically* responds to the article, basically saying ‘yes they take Govt money, no they’re not hiding it, yes it’s all legal, yes they pay it back when required’.
    (http://www.businessinsider.com.au/elon-musk-has-always-been-completely-open-about-depending-on-government-money-2015-6)

    So, my main disagreement is that you’ve singled out Tesla / Solarcity for applying for Government funding that were freely offered for a specific purpose. Others would / could have done it, yet your beef seems to be Musk specific.

    Philosophically, I guess that you and I will have to disagree on subsidies, that is, while to the end consumer it looks like a Govt expense, really it’s just the Govt:

    1) not taking as much money as it usually would.
    or:
    2) Fiscal support to develop [depending on which loan / grant subsidy]
    a) States falling over themselves offering incentives (not taking as much money) to build a large factory providing local work, employment etc
    b) Supporting the adoption of solar power (Govt supporting a beginning business)
    c) Supporting the development of electric car being able to be produced / developed etc. ((Govt supporting new technology development)

    I guess to sum up, nothing above was Musk specific, yet the article focused on him. An article about the evil of propping up failing businesses should be able to do so with either mentioning multiple names or mentioning none of them.

    Cassandra.

  42. About 5 years ago we installed a new roof. Asphalt. We’ll not need another. But thanks Willis for the purchase confirmation.

    ~~~~~
    The Tesla M3 is a 4-door sedan expected to become available about this time next year – 2017.
    Other (real) companies are beginning to sell something similar this year at about the same price and range (or better).
    Four door sedans have less profit than the F-150 and SUV types. What will Tesla have to match the income stream of these in-demand vehicles?
    I assume the companies coming on-line with their own EVs will no longer have to buy credits from Tesla Car Company. Anyone know?

    {my bold below}
    Tesla says: “The cost of a reservation is approximately $1,000 USD. Please see the table below for the amount in your local currency. Note that the reservation payment is fully refundable if you cancel your reservation.”

    So, for $1,000 you get in a temporary line to buy a car much like a car you can buy soon from a company that will still be in business in 5 years. This does not compute.

    Recall fondly the DeLorean DMC-12.

    • JFH said: “So, for $1,000 you get in a temporary line to buy a car much like a car you can buy soon from a company that will still be in business in 5 years. This does not compute.”

      For a refundable deposit you get a place in line. But the federal $7500./car subsidy will run out early in the sales of the Model 3. (It phases out after a manufacturer sells 200,000 qualifying cars and the Model S and X qualify) I personally speculate that many of the place holders expect to sell their place in line to someone who wants to get a car before that subsidy runs out. The key is that the deposit is fully refundable, and Tesla meanwhile gets an interest-free loan of $300 million from those depositors.

  43. Hummm, I think I need to invent solar shingle screen type protectors just in case of a hail storm and maybe a big UPS for the battery system? That may already be in the works with the flurry of regulations coming out of the current administration right now. Going to be a painful POTUS exit for the masses with what is happening and going unnoticed for the most part. Small taste http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-18/obama-hits-the-gas-in-race-to-regulate-before-trump-takes-reins

    • Yes, but consider all those green jobs that will be created to troubleshoot and fix the corrosion problems! /sarc

  44. Traditional roofing is usually whatever suitable material is close to hand, more modern rooves use whatever is cheapest. Once people moved on from small houses with turf or thatched rooves. So for example slate is easily available in Wales and North West Scotland so traditional building techniques are for slate rooves. Northern Scotland had access to Caithness Sandstone/Slate so that was used for rooves and other purposes such as walls the old guy is speaking English, British East coast had access to Dutch Pantiles, rarely seen else where in the UK. It;s basically the same across Europe if you have traveled across Europe you be able to work out where you are from the old buildings. Here they are just moving on from terracotta tiles pretty much the same as used by the Romans to interlocking ones.

    People have until it became profitable to put up solar panels replaced like with like as it was normally cheapest and easiest to obtain. Possibly in recent years using cheaper materials which look like the original.

    So in Western Europe most rooves will be able cope with the weight. All the other problems still remain however.

    • i am informed that germany requires 7 years of apprenticeship to be allowed to contract roofing – only the shingle/tiles (illegal to change a rafter)
      heh- that makes the cost freakin outrageous. in the usa – the instructions are on every bundle of asphalt shingles so if can read and work a hammer and knife – you just do it – no permission required.

  45. I must say that I have deep respect for the serial entrepreneur Elon Musk, so I would like to express some words in his defense.

    First of all, he made his fortune in X.com and PayPal and then played a large role in the founding of SpaceX, Tesla and SolarCity.

    Each of these are remarkable companies. SpaceX is the first private company to send a satellite into geostationary orbit. Delivering satellites to lower orbits has become a routine and they do it far cheaper than their competitors do, and they make money on it.

    Before Tesla, all mass produced electric cars were odd-looking vehicles with low range. Tesla has proved that an electric car can be a car the customers want to have, not because it is zero emission vehicle, but because the performance and comfort are exceptionally.

    Both my oldest son, Niklas, and I have bought EV, and they are always the family members first choice because they are the most enjoyable cars to drive. If you get used to it, you do not get back to noisy, slow and fuming vehicles.

    I think these roof tiles may have a similar transformation on solar roof as Tesla had on EV. Solar roof will no longer look like some odd experiment you are conducting on your roof. Solar tiles look just as pretty as normal tiles.

    As for the economy of solar roof, I went through it with a colleague of mine, Gullbrand, who invested in ordinary solar roof panels last spring. The business case was not super profitable, but it was not very bad either. It is profitable over a 20-year timespan if we presuppose that the electricity tariff will continue to rise as it has done up to now. Moreover, we live in Norway, which is 60-degree northern latitude, and the panels will be out of production in the wintertime when they are covered with snow. If it is close to profitable here, anywhere else should be better.

    An expensive battery is not required; the house owner sell the excess energy back to the grid.

    The main reason why I have not followed Gullbrands example is that I am not so happy with having this panels mounted on top of my existing roof. I think it is much better solution to integrate the solar panel in the tiles exactly as SolarCity has done. This solution should be more economically as you meet two ends with one action; the tiles both serves as traditional roof tiles and as solar panels.

    Do Mr. Musk oversell his product? Well yes probably, but I think we should give him some slack, he is an enthusiast making bold promises, but he has also proven that he is able to deliver remarkable products.

    See SpaceX price compared to some competitors:
    http://www.fool.com/investing/2016/06/24/how-much-does-it-cost-to-launch-a-satellite.aspx

    /Jan

    • >>An expensive battery is not required; the house owner
      >>sell the excess energy back to the grid.

      That does not add up at all. If the grid goes Green, then the grid will not have much electricity to sell at night either. Unless the grid has a battery, or fossil fuel backup. This all comes back to the same old problem with renewables – how do you overcome the intermittancy? Either domestic, or national intermittancy?

      And if the grid has fossil backup, or nuclear backup, then what is the point of the renewables – if the backup has to be burning and turning all the time? And paying back its capital costs all the time? You have just quintupled the cost of your electricity, for no gain. And your car is still not emissions free.

      Actually, I would rather that Willis did an analysis of how much energy a solar roofed house could generate per anum, in relation to the normal household usage. When Prof MacKay in the UK made a similar calculation, the results were not favourable at all. See booklet “Renewable Energy Without the Hot Air”.

      Ralph

      • That depends a lot on where you are living. Around where I live, almost all electricity are generated by hydropower, and that is easily stored. The power provider simply hold back the water in the magazines when the customers produce their own power, and release it for production when they need the hydropower.

        It can more challenging other places, but hydropower is not the only source that can be used as an alternative when the sun does not shine. The need for storage can be minimized by combining many different sources in a large grid. As one example, wind energy may be provided when the sun does not shine, and hydro may take the slack when we have neither sun nor wind.

        The estimated annual production on my colleagues’ house is 3.5 MWH

      • Well, it depends on where you live…

        Perhaps demand is greatest during the time when solar operates… more power is frequently used during the middle of the working day than at other times (there may be an additional peak in the early evening).

        solar delivers on that extra demand in those cases.

        If you have very good solar resource -over 300 days of excellent solar resource as in India or Australia – it is very likely a domestic user can get all they need from solar plus a battery.

        but fossil fuel back up does not need to be running all the time -solar (and wind) are sufficiently predictable to allow you to ramp it up as solar output declines. Even better, fast responding grid scale batteries can take the load during a rapid transition as the sun sets, allowing gas plant to be brought on line more efficiently.

        solar is unlikely to be the only renewable energy available – wind is most available when solar isn’t

    • Tesla stock recommendation: SELL
      “SELL. The current P/E ratio is negative, which has no meaningful value in the assessment of premium or discount valuation, it simply displays that the company has negative earnings.”
      https://www.thestreet.com/r/ratings/reports/analysis/TSLA.html

      SolarCity net losses for five consecutive years
      http://x-fin.com/analysis/SCTY

      SpaceX is profitable according to Musk. I guess it makes money on insurance claims. His cheap rockets keep on exploding. Great businessman!

      • Seems baggage can go up on a SpaceX but people? Not me or mine — thank you very much, but no.

        From the Wall Street Journal, but you can find elsewhere
        New details have emerged about warnings issued by a National Aeronautics and Space Administration advisory panel regarding potential fueling hazards on SpaceX’s future manned rockets.
        The panel’s safety concerns, which were reported on earlier by The Wall Street Journal, focus on possible dangers stemming from plans by entrepreneur Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. to fuel rockets while astronauts are strapped into capsules loaded on board.

      • “Seems baggage can go up on a SpaceX but people?”

        The space shuttle killed its crew about one time in sixty, so NASA can’t really lecture anyone about safety. And now they’re saying they would rather have ground crew standing around a fully-fuelled rocket where they’ll die it if explodes, than put astronauts on top of it before it’s fuelled, where they have an escape system that would carry them away from an exploding rocket.

        Does not compute, Will Robinson.

        I do agree, though, that SpaceX seem to have fallen into the ‘efficiency at any cost’ trap that crippled so many previous space ventures. The recent explosion appears to have been due to the liquid oxygen solidifying because they’re using ultra-low temperatures to stuff as much oxygen as possible into the tanks before launch. Had they stuck to conventional rocket oxidizer temperatures, it wouldn’t have happened, but their payload would be a little less.

      • “Seems baggage can go up on a SpaceX but people?”

        The space shuttle killed its crew about one time in sixty, so NASA can’t really lecture anyone about safety.”

        Well, Musk hasn’t launched any human into orbit yet, so we don’t know what his success rate is, now do we.

        One of the shuttle launches that cost humans their lives happened because the shuttle was launched outside its design parameters. Had the NASA administrator waited a day or two to launch, when it was warmer, the shuttle would have launched without a problem, so your “one in sixty” would be one in 135.

        In both cases, we know what caused the shuttle to be destroyed. In Space-X’s case, we don’t know what the problem is right now. If the space shuttle were available today, I would certainly trust it over Space-X. How about you?

      • “Well, Musk hasn’t launched any human into orbit yet, so we don’t know what his success rate is, now do we.”

        We know the Falcon 9 has a success rate of around 90% so far, and the crews would have survived the two failures. Without political meddling, like the kind that killed the Soyuz crew who suffocated due to a demand that they fly without suits so the USSR could beat NASA to having three astronauts in space, it’s actually really, really hard to be less safe than the space shuttle.

        “ad the NASA administrator waited a day or two to launch, when it was warmer, the shuttle would have launched without a problem”

        And if my aunt had balls, she’d be my uncle. Had Challenger not been lost that day, it would have happened to another shuttle sooner or later.

        Columbia was almost lost on its first flight when the body flap was pushed well beyond its design limits by the backblast from the SRBs; John Young has said that, if he’d known what had happened, he’d have aborted the mission and ejected. It would have been lost during reentry if there were no humans on board, because the aerodynamics turned out to be different to those programmed into the computer, and it would probably have burned up if the crew hadn’t taken over.

        STS-27 was almost lost just two flights after Challenger, when the heatshield burned through at a spot which, fortunately, had tough enough structure to survive the heat and still land. They crew have said that, when they saw the heatshield damage caused during the launch, they thought they were all going to die… and they almost did. NASA didn’t fix the foam shedding problems, so we lost Columbia years later.

        The shuttle got lucky at least as many times as it got unlucky.

        “How about you?”

        I’d take a Dragon any day, because, despite the Falcon-9 being less reliable than most current launchers, you don’t just die when something goes wrong.

      • Oh, and, while there’s no official word, SpaceX have essentially said that the explosion was due to oxygen solidifying in the carbon-fibre wrap around the helium tanks, then cutting through the fibres when the metal liner expanded and compressed the carbon-fibre as the helium was loaded. As I said above, they seem to be pushing things too hard to try to push up the payload to save a few bucks (ok, quite a few million bucks if you can launch on a Falcon 9 vs a Falcon Heavy)… and, like the shuttle engines that were far less robust than designed because they were pushed to run at higher thrust levels than they were designed for, they’re suffering for that choice.

        But, most likely, they just have to change the loading procedure to ensure the oxygen can never solidify in future.

      • “I’d take a Dragon any day, because, despite the Falcon-9 being less reliable than most current launchers, you don’t just die when something goes wrong.”

        You don’t want to land in a Falcon-9. Five of 11 landing attempts crashed and burned. That’s the worst record in the history of rocketry

      • “You don’t want to land in a Falcon-9.”

        Uh, no. That’s why I said ‘Dragon’.

        “Five of 11 landing attempts crashed and burned. That’s the worst record in the history of rocketry”

        It’s also the best record in the history of rocketry, since no-one else has ever landed the first stage of an orbital launcher before (and, no, parachuting shuttle SRBs into the sea doesn’t count).

      • MarkG commented: “…It’s also the best record in the history of rocketry, since no-one else has ever landed the first stage of an orbital launcher before …..”

        Not true. Blue Origin, by Jeff Bezos, beat him to the “first” spot and has done more than Musk since. That doesn’t diminish the accomplishment, just your claim :-)

      • Nobody else attempted to land a rocket on its tail because they know it’s risky and costly in terms of fuel. Elon portrays himself a brilliant engineer and fans adore the image. Even his failures are advertised as “technological breakthrough”

      • “Oh, and, while there’s no official word, SpaceX have essentially said that the explosion was due to oxygen solidifying in the carbon-fibre wrap around the helium tanks, then cutting through the fibres when the metal liner expanded and compressed the carbon-fibre as the helium was loaded.”

        Yeah, that might be the problem *this* time.

        The good thing about the shuttle launch system was most of the bugs were already worked out of it. Can’t say that for Space-X or any other future launcher at this time. Lots of things can go wrong on a launch vehicle.

        It was an extremely foolish action to give up the space shuttle launch system. We will have gained nothing by building a new heavy-lift vehicle, when we already had one, and our space program will have lost billions of extra dollars and decades of progress in the process. Unbelievably shortsighted.

        We have a bunch of fools running our space program and have had for many years. That’s the problem.

        Private enterprise will eventually surpass government involvement in space, but there is no telling when all that’s going to take place. If we had the shuttle launch system up and running right now, we could actually begin on a meaningful space development program that would enhance the private sector, too.

        Too late now, we’ll just have to start all over and waste another decade or two preparing. Unless someone has $10 billion they want to loan me. Then I’ll buy the shuttle launch system myself and start my own space development program, and I’ll beat everyone of the competition to the punch. I guarantee it, just give me $10 billion. :)

      • His fortune comes from the inflated stock price of Tesla, which is losing money. He has to continue the media hype to keep the stock price up. It’s the classic game of “pump and dump.” At some point before it becomes evident he cannot deliver on his promises, he has to sell his stocks at inflated price before it tanks

  46. Your over all points are on target. Musk does appear to be operating a huge public tax money-to-Musk billion$ business model. Roofs in the regions of the country hit by frequent serious hail storms, by the way, see roofs of all sorts last much less than 30 years. The fire safety issue is disturbing. Have fire safety standards been applied to solar roof systems?

  47. >>BFL
    >>Asphalt shingle roof at 40years?? I’ve not seen a standard
    >>3 tab last past 20 (pushing it) and most are15 years.

    I have never understood American ‘throw-away’ housing. I understand throw-away Coke-cans, because of the difficulty in collecting, cleaning, reusing them. But throw-away housing made of plywood and ashphalt??

    In the UK we are still recycling slate tiles made 150 years ago (Welsh slate is best). While the average glazed terracotta tile is good for a century. And the glazing is, errr, glass. Glazed teracotta is big in Europe, not so much in the UK. And the average conctrete-framed flat with a concrete roof down in the Meditteranean regions, will not collapse into splinters at the first tornado. And all of the north of Europe has tripple glazed windows, while all I saw in the rural midwest of the US was single-glaze.

    Why does ‘rich ‘ America still have Third World plywood housing with coated cardboard roofs??

    Ralph

    • wood framing is cheap, fast and durable, almost trivial to remodel, upgrade or repair.
      one man can build a small house by himself in a matter of weeks – with his own savings.
      in europe where everything has been owned for 1000 years, good luck finding a cheap lot.
      americans, traditionally, are independent and raising a family when they reach the age of majority – they haven’t, historically, housed 3 generations of family in one dwelling.
      permanence has also not been an american tradition because mobility – something not possible in eu because there are no frontiers.
      in fact, liberty is impossible without frontiers.
      most of the great big usa is uninhabited.
      things may be different now, but that’s how it used to be for a couple hundred years.

      • in america, contractors do entire subdivisions of hundreds of homes – and they do it in a summer.
        such growth was supported by vast wealth and cheap land –
        the ability of a person to own land was a unique draw for the settlers because that was simply impossible to do in the old country

      • >>one man can build a small house by himself in a matter
        >>of weeks – with his own savings.

        Indeed, that is what I said.

        This is what they build in Africa, and it is called a mud-hut or a hovel. Why is the world’s (supposed) richest nation, still building hovels made of sticks and plywood? Hovels that fall apart at the first breath of wind from tornado?

        Perhaps this is what Trump meant by ‘rebuilding US infrastructure’. Perhaps the US will at last get some 20th century building codes and standards.

        R

      • well, yeah. most people in the use don’t really have any real need to live in a hurricane shelter.
        but if you happen to live in an earthquake zone, wood framing holds up better than masonry..
        you may try to characterize wood framed houses as hovels, but that’s really far off the mark.
        there are no multimillion dollar hovels.

    • We use stick frame houses because they are easy to build and cheap to buy and own. We like a lot of people owning their homes. Stick frame housing is an important part of that. And when land use changes, they are also easy to dispose of allowing owners to repurpose the land. And as for tornadoes, study a bit more. Europe, due to geography and climate, gets few if any tornadoes of any significance. If you did, you wouldn’t make claims about buildings standing up to them. They don’t.

      • “If you did, you wouldn’t make claims about buildings standing up to them. They don’t.”

        Several decades ago, I had occasion to drive around downtown Xenia, Ohio looking for a parking place. I noticed that the bricks in the courthouse changed color a couple of feet off the ground. The reason, of course, was that their 1974 tornado demolished the building which was then rebuilt using bricks from a different source.

      • “Europe, due to geography and climate, gets few if any tornadoes of any significance. If you did, you wouldn’t make claims about buildings standing up to them. They don’t.”

        Yeah, that Welch slate won’t help them with a tornado. The tornado will blow them away, tiles, and triple-glazed windows, and all.

    • My God, this is one of the most ignorant and overly generalized posts I have read in a long time.
      Throw-away housing?, third world plywood?, single-glazed windows?, coated cardboard roofs?.

      • >>My God, this is one of the most ignorant and overly
        >>generalized posts I have read in a long time.

        Except that the trail of matchwood after every US tornado would strongly suggest that I am correct in my assessment.

        Conversely, living in a standard European concrete apartment complex (four stories), if we had an F5 roll through I think the worst we would suffer is the TV dishes all disappearing. All the cars, for instance, are underground, as they are in the vast majority of European apartments (less so in the UK, because the UK also suffers from cheapo housing.)

        Why not admit it – the majority of non capital-city housing in the US is substandard in comparison to Europe.

        R

      • Masonry/concrete looks very strong, but does not do well in earthquakes unless so heavily reinforced it is largely a steel cage with masonry/concrete decoration. Frame does do well in high winds if one properly figures and installs shear walls and roof ties.

      • “Conversely, living in a standard European concrete apartment complex (four stories), if we had an F5 roll through I think the worst we would suffer is the TV dishes all disappearing. ”

        heh- well there we have it. ralfellis- an apartment is not a home. it’s a very important distinction in america.

    • In the UK we are still recycling slate tiles made 150 years ago (Welsh slate is best). While the average glazed terracotta tile is good for a century.

      Much of the US is earthquake county where tiles or slate tend to become flying missiles in a severe quake. Wood frame has its problems — inflamability and termites to name two. But it stands up well to earth motion. Building codes in California forbid unreinforced masonry structures that probably look near eternal to your eyes. They did very badly in the 1933 Inglewood-Long Beach earthquake. Even reinforced structures have been known to fail during quakes — e.g the Cypress Street Viaduct in Oakland, CA http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQWdvuP5lgKKHRQb2lpLQ06vwEyM9nv05nQsHnJXD7nexku6_3vpbR4UsLZMA

      Slate is rarely used for roofing here in Vermont despite being readily available. The reason is that snow loads over a meter are best removed lest another heavy snowfall collapse the roof. So almost all roofs are either metal — durable and snow doesn’t stick but noisy — or asphalt shingle which has some friction and only rarely sends homeowners off into space and thence to the emergency room.

    • My father did construction in the UK. I remember back in the 80s or 90s he started complaining about how new build houses were abandoning the traditional methods in favour of timber framing. Just because they look like they’re made of bricks doesn’t mean they are.

      Ah, the Guardian says it was a fad in the 80s that went away due to bad press, but 25% of new UK houses are timber-framed, as are most new houses in Germany:

      https://www.theguardian.com/business/2012/nov/12/prefabs-britain-timber-frame-persimmon

      I believe another reason for timber houses in North America is the massive temperature variation over the year. Our house sees a difference of 80C between the worst summer and winter temperatures. Wood should handle that better than bricks.

      • For a possible (foreign?) terminology issue. In the US, (large) timber framed buildings are post-and beam with large timber trusses, while “stick built” uses nominal 2x framing with sheetgood (plywood or OSB) sheathing. Which do you refer to, MarkG?

      • Don’t really know the difference, I’m afraid; my father worked in construction, not me. But the Guardian article sounds like they’re building pretty much the same way they do here in Canada.

      • I asked, as I recall a conversation with one of my brother’s German in-laws deploring the fact the house my brother was buying had only two inch thick corner posts. I tried to explain that in common stick framing there are no corner posts.

      • My cousin lives in a 400? year old stone house in Farnham, England. 5 foot tall doors, 6 or 7 foot high ceilings, surface mount wiring, ugly plastered walls, fireplace in every room for heat, cold, damp, hard to seal. A registered historical land mark I believe. But thanks anyway Ralf, I’ll take my wood frame house with underfloor heating from a water to water heat pump back up propane air and a modern masonry wood fireplace using wood off my own land that provides most of my winter heat over that cold old English coal fired hand me down any day of the week.

        Happy Holidays.

        Wayne Delbeke

      • Now you mention it, a friend’s parents still live in a 14th century house in the UK. The walls are made of sticks, clay and cowpats.

  48. As with many of these gimmick technologies, there doesn’t seem to be enough thought about why people would buy the product. It seems like it would fail all ends of the market apart from a very small niche.

    As Willis points out this isn’t a product for the cheaper end of the market. Even for a tile or slate roof, by far and away the biggest cost is installation. That this combines electricity and roofing, the job would require even more specialised staff – read expensive. Would the product cover a whole roof or just sections? That begs the question of how to deal with tiles that need to be cut? Would the areas with non solar tile look the same? If not the roof would look weird. From an aesthetic point of view the tile itself looks plastic and cheap and part of the reason for using slate or terracotta if for its visual appearance. It’s one thing to save the planet but another entirely to spoil the look of your very expensive home! /sarc

    Durable the material might be but how about the electrical nature of it? It seems like the roof would need to be repaired and replaced far more often than a traditional one. Slates will last over hundreds of years and even my concrete tiles last at least 70. As I can attest, being re-roofed is a big headache and in some ways the cost is the smallest part of that. Just getting someone who will leave you with a leak proof roof is what you hope for most. Having to make sure the solar element is still functioning too would be one hardship too many. Imagine someone thumping about on your roof trying to find the faulty tile and then saying they can no longer get the spares but leaving several tiles cracked where the ‘durable’ tiles couldn’t stand up to being walked on by a clumsy roofer with grit embedded boots.

    . And that’s all assuming your local bylaws will let you use such a new material and your insurance company will over you once you’ve got it.

    I’m all for new technologies but they must address the mundane issues before saying they’re viable. Electric cars are the same. They have key flaws that preclude them from being useful to the majority. The current plan seems to be trying to follow the IT model, where people put up with endless faults and shortcomings and kept coming back for the upgrade. They key difference was we wanted computers and software. Those things were truly revolutionary. Solar power and electric vehicles are just weedy alternatives to the current options.

    • That is a damning indictment of the entire solar rooftop industry. How dare they sell products that are not compliant with normal and reasonable fire safety standards? What a scam.

  49. One word, kids. Metal. Roofing. OK, two words. I have been putting metal roofing on all manner of structures for 20 years. The only downside? Noise level when cutting pieces with circular saw, angle grinder or sawzall. Power shears take care of that! Musk trots out this solar power shingle idea and people are supposed to just accept it without real world testing, and plenty of idiots will.

    • For my home, a flat roofed house, we installed a TPO roof, fully adhered to 2″of insulation. My cooling bill dropped over 50%. The roofing material is very durable and has 10′ seams that are welded together. It reflects heat so well that on a July sunny day in Texas the roof is not uncomfortably hot to the touch. And it is affordable. That is better than anything Musk is offering.

      • Here in western PA metal, in various configurations/styles, is very popular, has really grown during the last 5-8 years. The wide range of color options is just icing on the cake, as it were. Properly installed metal is very resistant to high wind. Hell, even shoddily installed it is resistant to high wind. Flat roof systems are a different animal, all together. I have done rubber and vinyl sheet roofing and standing seam sheet metal on commercial buildings, have moved away from doing such work. Closing in on getting old, like to stay closer to the ground.

  50. Willis, I’m not a big Elon Musk fan, but I think perhaps you should give him some credit for his ability to put together complex design and manufacturing efforts that produce sophisticated products that are competitive and in some cases quite impressive. That’s not easy to do. But I think you’ve nailed what is perhaps his greatest weakness. IMO one can’t believe a single word the man says. That’s perhaps not an issue with Spacex where his competitors are not exactly paragons of honesty and the customers expect to be lied to. May not be an issue with his cars either. He is competing with the likes of GM and Volkswagen. But still …

    I didn’t write this comment to praise or denigrate Musk. I just thought that any discussion of home renewables is incomplete without a link to Tom Murphy’s blog http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/ I think his numerous articles on home solar and his electric car probably sum up pretty well what someone depending on solar energy can expect to encounter. Bottom line. Solar today is usable. If you are willing to accommodate its extensive limitations. But it probably won’t save all that much money. If any. And, above all. Batteries suck.

    • “you should give him some credit for his ability to put together complex design and manufacturing efforts that produce sophisticated products that are competitive” ??? Yes the Tesla is complex and sophisticated but hardly competitive … and SolarCity is none of those things and SpaceX blows sh*t up way too often …

  51. The solution is simple, and might even start soon. It is to

    STOP SUBSIDIZING INEFFICIENT TECHNOLOGIES THAT ARE NOT READY FOR MARKET!!

    And all this time I thought the government considered a “shovel-ready project” one that was one ready to roll right now, not one that needed to be buried! 8-)

  52. I have been a custom home builder for over 40 years. Most of those years have been in Virginia. Since most of my building career has been in Virginia, many of my jobs involved Historic renovations. I have seen about every type of construction, building materials, and of course different roofing materials.

    In the US, as I’m sure in every other parts of the world, you have different levels of competency, craftsmanship, and quality. (Everybody should read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”).
    We have the so-called tract home builders and also, what I call the briefcase builders. These are people who have probably never picked up a hammer or saw in their life, yet they build houses. They subcontract every portion of the house. Then you have the custom home builder, such as myself, who have devoted their lives to mastering the art of building, from the footings/foundation, to the framing of the structure, to the final interior woodwork.

    Since this discussion is about roofs, I will put in my 2 cents worth. I live on the Chesapeake Bay. We have hot and humid summers, beautiful springs and falls, and humid cold winters (and yes we get about 20″ of snow where I live). We also have an average of 46″ of rainfall a year. We also get hurricanes and Nor’easters. So, our climate is a great test for any roofing material. I will list the materials by their longevity in my climate:

    Asphalt shingles. I’m talking the basic 3-tab asphalt shingles. I have never used a standard 3-tab asphalt shingle, ever. They are the least expensive and only last about 15 years.

    Cedar Shakes. This is one of the worst roofs for our climate. The shakes themselves do not shed water; it depends on the tar paper that is interwoven between each course. In a sense it’s a decorative roof. It’s also an expensive roof and requires a lot of maintenance. Maybe 20 years. (When people replace a shake roof, they never use shakes again).

    Cedar shingles. These are the machine cut wood shingles. Thinner than shakes and a much less rustic look. They are what we call a triple coverage roof, I would have to diagram it, because it’s hard to explain. It is a very waterproof and wind resistant roof. You cannot place wood shingles over plywood; the roof sheathing cannot be solid, so you have to use what’s called skip-sheathing. No tar paper is used on a wood shingle roof, because it has to breath from the underside, that’s the reason for the skip sheathing. I have seen wood shingles place on a plywood sheathed roof, and since they can’t breath from the underside, they end up curling and splitting, and a very reduced lifespan (maybe 20 years). Properly installed and maintained, can be good for 50 years.

    Architectural Shingles. These are similar to the old 3-tabs, but much, much better. They are actually asphalt impregnated fiberglass. This is the most popular roof today because they hold up well in just about any climate. There are many grades and thicknesses available, and this will determine the warranty, cost, and life expectancy of a properly installed roof. Also very resistant to high winds. They typically come in 30-year, 40- year, and now even 50-year. Properly installed, they will more than meet those expectations.
    (I just visited a house I had built in 1990. We had installed a 40-year architectural shingle roof on it. After 26 years, the roof still looks like it was installed yesterday. My house has 30-year architectural and after 13 years still looks great).

    Standing seam metal roofs. This is a very popular roof in Virginia. These are different than your manufactured metal roofs. Manufactured metal roofs are similar, but they only have one crimp on the seams or a piece that slips over the seams to lock the panels together. Each panel of a true standing seam roof is made out of a flat piece of metal and two upright flanges are bent on each panel. Each panel is approximately 16″ wide and they go from the very bottom to the ridge. A special tool is then used to do a double crimp at each seam. It’s all handwork. They are also double crimped to a starter piece at the bottom and sides, double crimped at the ridge and also at hips. Extremely wind resistant and virtually waterproof.
    Galvanized. You don’t see too many galvanized metal roofs anymore, as they require painting every 5-10 years. If not properly maintained, they can rust. 75 years.
    Copper. It’s actually a hard copper alloy These start out looking like a shiny new penny, but within weeks, they start developing a beautiful patina. Personally, I think it is the most beautiful roof. No maintenance required. Expensive (around $12.00/sq. ft., depending on the price of copper at the time). 100+ years.

    Slate. We have a few slate quarries in Virginia, so material costs aren’t too bad, but still very expensive. A slate roof, because of it’s weight requires beefed up rafters. Very labor intensive…probably the most expensive roof to install. Also very expensive to repair a broken shingle and they do break from time to time.
    A beautiful roof. I have seen original slate roofs on houses built in the early 1700’s. 250+ years.

    Clay tiles. I have no experience with this roof. We don’t have much Spanish or Mediterranean architecture in Virginia. It would stick out like sore thumb.

    By the way, all the roofs I mentioned are CO2 proof.
    Years ago when we were having some problems with acid rain, that was hard on copper roofs. But since we have that under control now, copper roofs are super long lasting. If you can afford a standing seam copper roof, it’s the best roof out there.

    AH

  53. Question for Willis: Does the $4.9 B include SpaceX? If it does, that portion needs to be subtracted from the total, as he is providing a product / service for a price not unlike United Launch Alliance does with the Delta 4 and LochMard does with the Atlas V. Cheers –

  54. What roofs? Aren’t we all supposed to live in high density apartment buildings, according to eco-zealots?

  55. In the SF Bay area their was a news story that 2 firefighters had experienced pain in their arms after spraying PV panels with a fire hose.

  56. Gnomish provides a quote above without attribution. The complete paragraph is:
    “Straight off the bat, it needs to be stated that not all roofs are made the same, and not all roofers charge the same prices. Depending on the type of your roof, geographic location, and the company or weekend warrior you choose to hire, the total installed cost of a composition shingles roof could vary between $2.75 to $7.50 per square foot installed. — That’s anywhere from $275 for a low bid (such as a bid from a weekend warrior or storm chaser who works without any liability insurance and does not have any worker’s comp.) to $750 per square for a fully warrantied job completed by a high-end exterior remodeling company. A square is equal to 100 square feet. An average roof size is about 1,700 square feet.”

    http://www.roofingcalc.com/roof-replacement-cost/

    “Could vary” is meaningless. The national average on a typical residential new roof with asphalt shingles is about $4 a square foot.

    The Consumer Report estimate is problematic in a number of ways, but the most important is that the numbers in their table are simply wrong. A roofing industry professional looking at the table would immediately see that the clay tile estimate is about half what it should be, and the asphalt shingle estimate is about 40-50% high. C’mon, folks. Would asphalt shingles have half the market if clay tile was cheaper and concrete tile was cheaper yet? I looked, but could not find any other reference that claims clay tile is cheaper than asphalt shingles.

    • you’re right on everything you said.
      it also reinforces the point that tesla can’t do the shingaling like they do.

  57. Teslas make sense for Silicon Valley and other urban sprawl commuting . The tiles may have some rational market somewhere . ( Here in the Front Range , metal is taking over . )

    And here , where the diurnal variation is typically 20c and what’s needed is supplemental heat , never ac , direct thermal capture and storage systems make far more sense , even if not sexy .

    In any case the message is : STOP SUBSIDIZING.

  58. Lightness is not an asset in a roof in Tornado country.

    This seems a pretty accurate summary of the whole Musk phenomenon.

    Tesla
    May 2016
    Devonshire Research Group, LLC
    Tesla is not a car, battery, or tech company; it is an experimental financial services company and should be regulated as such.

  59. Elon Musk has done things like build a far better car than Mercedes or even Toyota and a rocket than lands on a tiny rolling barge. For those reasons he deserves enormous respect. If he were just another big bragging politician squandering billions on programs that have no redeeming value, that’d be different.

  60. A major mistake in this piece is thinking that the reporter writing the article is correctly interpreting or reporting exactly what Musk said. It is unfair to call a man a liar for things he may not have said — he is not directly quoted. (Someone we know here has a “rule” about this.) There are two quotes in the article, neither of them any where near false — one contains opinions:
    “Electricity,” Musk said, “is just a bonus.”

    “So the basic proposition will be: Would you like a roof that looks better than a normal roof, lasts twice as long, costs less and—by the way—generates electricity?” Musk said. “Why would you get anything else?”

    The comparison to other roofing is NOT to cheap asphalt shingles (whose lifetime is estimated to be 20, not 40, years), but to terracotta and slate. I am willing to give Musk a little leeway, as he is making a sales pitch….

    California and the entire southwest is covered with homes with real or fake Spanish-era red tile roofing, which in some cases is required by building codes or neighborhood covenants. [There are other products that imitate terracotta. ] I lived in a home with red tile roofing in my youth, and we boys were absolutely forbidden to go aloft and risk cracking any of the roofing. Real Mission-style tiles are fragile, when shipped, many in each delivered pallet arrive broken (by my own eye-witness account) , builders take this into account when ordering. Many are broken during installation. some crack after a single season in the sun and have to be replaced, by experts.

    Slate, by the way, does not make terrific roofing. It cracks, then it leaks, it is difficult to repair — it takes an expert to work on a slate roof. I knew men who lived quite well on this fact alone, as their fathers and grandfathers had taught them the slate roofing trade in their early years. Slate roofs are quaint and in some places required by historic preservation laws….otherwise they would be ripped off and modern materials used — I would have done so if I had intended to live a whole life in our slate-roofed home.

    As for Musk’s other endeavors….I stood last year on the edge of the Cape Canaveral Barge Canal and watched as a SpaceX first-stage rocket flew itself back to Earth and landed itself on its tail at Cape Canaveral Air Station, less than a mile from where I was standing with my family. Hardly the result of flim-flam.

    I particularly like this part: “Next, firemen hate rooftop solar for a good reason. Think about having to punch a hole into a roof to get inside when the rest of the house is on fire … you do NOT want to be punching through glass solar panels hooked up to an inverter and a giant battery. In fact, if such a house is on fire, the battery is both a toxic hazard and an explosive hazard, while the roof is a no-go zone …” I guess the author rejects rooftop solar of all kinds (Anthony, take note, your solar installation is a toxic and explosive hazard…)

    I have been a volunteer fireman…and all homes have hazards, particularly garages with cars, gasoline, lawn chemicals and who knows what … solar panels and their batteries/inverters do not add substantially to these risks.

    I have to wonder what all the strong negative emotion is really all about.

    • Kip, it also begs the question of replacing shorted or open-circuit tile failures and their associated troubleshooting. This is method fails the Occam’s razor test bigtime.

      • Pop Piasa ==> I don’t know, W. doesn’t know, and we won’t know anything useful about that until we see a clearer description of the proposed system — I like to remain unconvinced (either way) until I’ve read product spec sheets, installation manuals, and repair manuals.

        In the end, it is the, marketplace that will decide. There have been terrific ideas that failed i the marketplace, and lousy ideas that succeeded….one just never knows.

        The current “system” is put on a roofing system (whatever is in the plans) then cover that with solar panels on all south and west facing surfaces, with no real forethought as to the interface. Sensible for retrofitting, not so good for new construction.

  61. “Meanwhile, in the developing world, WWFA says a village-sized water well costs about $8,000 to put in … ”

    About 8 years ago, My wife and I managed a humanitarian project that installed 500 clean, safe, drinking-water wells in rural areas of the Dominican Republic that had no water systems [think drinking water from streams alongside cattle pastures, ditches or brackish sloughs] over a four-year period at a cost of less than $2,000 per well. Each was equipped with a hand pump, manufactured for us in India, whose mechanism could be repaired by someone with the basic skills of a bicycle mechanic.

    I would rather see more safe drinking water projects, and fewer solar “single-bulb night light and cell phone charger” projects in the developing world.

    • My old employer spent 25 years doing wells in Ethiopia. A pretty satisfying project for everyone involved – giving people a needed safe and appreciated water supply (aside from the inevitable local government dash).

      • Wayne Delbeke ==> The Dominican women did not trust the wells to be safe — as the government was a partner in the effort. To dispel their lack of confidence, at each “grand opening” of a new village well, I would have a bright-smiled child enthusiastically operate the pump and i would cup my hands under the running stream and drink deeply — the sight of a “gringo” drinking was proof that the water was safe (in the DR, gringos drink ONLY bottled water). It was always very moving to see 20 or 30 grown women shedding tears of joy — for the health of their children, the end of the daily drudgery of fetching [unclear, unsafe] water from a distant stream or ditch.

    • Why not both?

      Solar LED projects in Asia and Africa – which sell the lights, not give them away – replace the use of kerosene lanterns with solar lights…

      Kerosene is expensive, taking a large proportion of incomes and leaving people in fuel poverty… kerosene lights also cause fires and are unhealthy.

      Switching to a purchased LED light with phone charger is much better.

      • Griff ==> Local owned, independent, for profit, commercial efforts providing solar panel, battery, LED light fixture and one 5-10 amp outlet systems are a fine idea. People who want them can buy them, They provide employment and business opportunities.

        Large-scale NGO programs spending millions of donated dollars to provide such systems under the guise of providing electrification to the poor are both a waste of money and hypocritical.

        The poor are not dying of “lack of a night light” or suffering from “can’t charge my cell phone”.

        They, and mostly their children, die from lack of refrigeration which allows them to buy food in reasonable (more than one day) quantities and keep it from spoiling.

        Their economies are near-death because it is nearly impossible to operate a successful micro-business without access to 24/7 (or at least dependable) electrical power.

        Providing “panel-bulb-and-battery” lighting systems to the poor instead of helping communities build and maintain at least a local electrical system is [almost] an utter waste and plays a cruel trick on the recipients.

        I know from personal experience that it is possible to supply a working 24/7 locally built and maintained micro-hydropower 120 VAC generation plant and delivery system serving 25 homes for about $600 per household — less with local donations or local NGO/government assistance.

        That’s a solution.

  62. “I have to wonder what all the strong negative emotion is really all about”
    See my reply to Nacoo Biznis.

  63. Thanks for a great post, Willis. “You know you are over the target when the flak is at its thickest”.

    For Cassandra —– really? Why would you pick that as a handle? It does not lead to credibility. Look it up. But fair comments just the same.

    Enjoyable afternoon watching “Canadian” football and reading comments.

    Thanks to all.

    Go Calgary – Grey Cup next week!

    • Wouldn’t these shingles have to be connected up like christmas lights? low voltage connections on at rooftop environment are difficult to maintain from my experience.

      • Most solar panels have 36 cells wired in series to produce about 17 volts. In the photo there appears to be a single cell per shingle, so yes there would need to be many shingles wired together to produce a usable output, and the devil would be in the details of that process, with a single failed connection taking 36 shingles offline.

        Further the actual cell would appear to cover maybe half of the total exposure, and the raised profile would lead to shading for part of the day even if the roof was oriented perfectly. Further, the shingles shown do not appear to have enough profile and overlap to reliably prevent leakage of wind driven rain, so they might require an additional waterproof membrane underneath in locations like Florida.

  64. It aggravates me that people nowadays use Tesla’s name to further their profits. They have so little of his understanding.

  65. Willis, you are right to gripe about policy, but you should know a good businessman will never leave $$ on the table for competitors. You couldn’t figure that out by yourself? If you don’t like the product, don’t buy it, and if enough others agree, the company will stop making it. That’s how the free market works (you are right to gripe about govt interference in said market, albeit no-longer-free).

  66. “Next, these solar shingles will be much more difficult to install, and thus much costlier, than a regular roof, involving electricians, special installers, and other high-priced folks.”

    My immediate thought when I read the title.
    My guess is these are going to be a spectacular flop, or reserved for the conscientious rich folk to ease their conscience while they sleep at night (and don’t generate electricity).

    All good points raised in the article.

    However, the car industry (what’s left of it) is subsidized already. Why not subsidize Elon’s too? At least to the same level, not more, hopefully less. It makes no difference that he is producing electric-powered cars or poo-powered cars, a car is a car is a car.

    So long as he is manufacturing them in the US, Trump will likely love it.
    I have a feeling that Trump is all for increasing subsidies, and tariffs. Time will tell of course.

  67. Tesla powers a whole island with solar to show off its energy chops

    Tesla completed its $2.6 billion acquisition of SolarCity this week, and, to celebrate, the company has announced a major solar energy project: wiring up the whole island of Ta’u in American Samoa. Previously, the island ran on diesel generators, but over the past year Tesla has installed a microgrid of solar energy panels and batteries that will supply “nearly 100 percent” of power needs for Ta’u’s 600 residents.
    [ … ]
    The project in Ta’u shows the benefit of this. It was funded by American Samoan and US authorities (including the Department of Interior), and Tesla says it will offset the island’s use of more than 109,500 gallons of diesel per year, as well as the expense of shipping that fuel in. “Factoring in the escalating cost of fuel, along with transporting such mass quantities to the small island, the financial impact is substantial,” said Tesla in a blog post.

    http://www.theverge.com/2016/11/22/13712750/tesla-microgrid-tau-samoa

    • Wiring up a remote pacific island … well, it is one place that such an installation MIGHT make economic sense, due to the high cost of shipping fuel.

      Some research reveals the following:

      ASPA [American Samoa Power Authority] is also utilizing local funding to initiate Phase II of the project on the island of Ta’u. In August 2015 ASPA selected Solar City as its contractor to install the hybrid system on Ta’u with 1.41 MW of solar panels and 4.2 MWh of Tesla energy storage batteries. This phase of the project will also be finished later this year resulting in an 85 percent offset in diesel fuel consumption on Ta’u.

      They are going to put in 5,328 Solarcity panels, and 60 Powerwall batteries. Not including shipping or the increased costs of doing installations on a remote island (ask me, been there), that adds up to just under FIVE MILLION DOLLARS worth of solar goodies. Added to that are the backup generator, of course, and we’re over five mil.

      (Now, here’s something funny. After doing my own estimate of the costs of over five million, I found this from the ASPA:

      Ta’u Hybrid Project – Project Cost – $6.8 million. This project also started in February 2016 and involves the installation of 1410kW of Solar PV Array, 4200 KWh of storage batteries, 3 x 275 KW diesel generators and a new 480V switchboard. The project is expected to be completed by September 2016. The prime contractor is Solar City CA, and ASPA is the PV Array, Battery System and Equipment installer.

      So my numbers are not bad for a back-of-the-envelope estimate … but I digress).

      Next, they CLAIM that this will “offset” a hundred and nine thousand gallons of diesel per year. My calculations look like this:

      solar panel count, 5328
      watts/panel, 260
      capacity (megawatts), 1.41
      capacity factor, 0.25
      megawatt-hrs/yr, 3090

      fuel-gallons/yr, 109,000
      fuel-tons of oil equivalent/yr, 353.9
      MWhrs/toe, 12
      megawatt-hrs/yr, 4247

      That doesn’t pan out. So it appears that they’ve used a theoretical capacity factor of 0.35 … I find that hard to believe. That’s up in the tracking-array range.

      Next, the diesel price in Apia, American Samoa, was $0.66 per litre yesterday. Figure 50% on top of that to get it out to an outer island. That means that their fuel cost for 109,000 gallons is about $400,000 per year. That means that the payback time on the solar IF THERE WERE NO MAINTENANCE OR REPLACEMENT COSTS AND THERE WERE NO TIME COST OF MONEY is on the order of 15 years. And that’s assuming that they can somehow get a 35% capacity factor out of the system.

      But in the real world, there are maintenance costs and replacement costs and mostly there is time cost of money. If we take the $6.8 million and invest it at three percent, and use it to pay the fuel costs, the same amount would pay for 24 years of fuel …

      So it is POSSIBLE that this might be a good deal in a perfect world where there are no maintenance or replacement costs, and where they get 35% capacity, and even then only if all of the equipment lasts for 24 years in a tropical marine environment, one of the most corrosive of natural environments to electronics of any kind.

      My prediction? If you go there in three years, it may still be operating. If you go there in ten years, it will be bleached bones. I wish them every success, and I’d be overjoyed to be proven wrong, but that’s my best guess.

      w.

      PS—As a quick overview of my bonafides in this question, my involvement in tropical solar systems began in 1985, when I was hired as part of a study of the use of solar systems in the outer islands of Fiji. I skippered a 28-foot open boat around a number the outer islands of Fiji and went ashore as a part of the research team, looking at both solar and fossil fuel electrical systems.

      I followed this interest in the seventeen years I subsequently spent living in Fiji and the Solomon Islands. During three years of that time I lived off the grid using solar power (plus the inevitable generator backup). During another three years I lived on and ran a remote island, where I was in charge of the generator that powered the entire island (well, powered it during working hours. After hours it was kerosene …).

      I also taught the use of village-level renewable energy of various types to Peace Corps Volunteers, and designed energy programs for their involvement. I also ran a rural development NGO in the Solomon Islands for two years, where I was in charge of several of energy-related projects.

      Finally, I spent two years as the Chief Financial Officer of the largest fuel-importing company in the Solomons, so I’m very familiar with fuel shipping costs in remote Pacific islands.

      So I’ve looked at dozens and dozens of tropical solar systems and I’ve run the numbers over and over for solar and fossil and wind and combinations of the above. On remote outer islands, the economics of solar can work, but the margins are thin … and there is no social tradition of maintenance of machinery.

  68. Willis Eschenbach wrote

    “… An asphalt shingle roof replacement will last forty years and cost something like $3.80 per square foot….”

    Surprised by this statement. I repaired such a roof three years ago. It had a 30 year warranty on the shingles. They were properly installed on a well-ventilated roof in a dry, temperate region (the Southern Canadian Rockies) when the house was built 17 years earlier. Yet the shingles on the South facing slope already needed replacing.

    The roofer I hired to install the new shingles estimated that the rest of the old shingles might be good for another three years or so.

    I bought the replacement shingles myself from the main local building supply – the same brand and retail source from which the builder had bought the originals, and noted that the 30 year warranty had a great big gotcha! – the buyer has to ship all the defective shingles back to the manufacturer at his own cost to make a warranty claim.

    So I wonder whether anyone has ever seen 30 (let alone 40) year asphalt shingles last to their BB date?

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