Tesla Inc starts production of electricity-producing shingles

Tesla Inc has started production of its long-awaited electricity-producing shingles that, according to Elon Musk will transform the rooftop solar industry.

The production of photovoltaic glass tiles started last month at a factory in Buffalo built with support from New York State, the company, according to the company's email yesterday.

This comes a year after Tesla unveiled the shingles amid scepticism.

The tiles from most angles look like ordinary shingles that allow light to pass from above and onto a standard flat solar cell. The product was first promoted by Tesla, the biggest US installer of rooftop-solar systems, with installation of the shingles on the homes of several employees and the company now will start installing roofs for customers within the next few months.

A roof with solar shingles would cost more than conventional roof along with photovoltaic panels -- but not ''wickedly so,'' said Hugh Bromley, a New York-based Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst, Bloomberg reported. As per his estimates, a Tesla roof would cost about $57,000 for a 2,000-square-foot house, as against around $41,000 for terracotta tiles along with a 5-kilowatt solar-panel system. A plain-old asphalt roof with panels would cost around $22,000, he added.

"These high-efficiency PV cells and modules will be used to produce solar panels in the non-solar roof products," according to Tesla's statement. "When production of the solar roof begins, Tesla will also incorporate Panasonic's cells into the many kinds of solar glass tile roofs that Tesla will be manufacturing."

''Panasonic is already inside that factory making solar panels. That started in October of last year," said Peter Fannon, vice president of technology policy at Panasonic Corporation of North America, in an interview at CES. "Also, we are just now beginning to manufacture cells.''