With all of the hoopla over Tesla’s solar roof offering, which drew a little bit of fire for Musk’s claim that it will “actually cost less than a normal roof,” it can be easy to miss some of the current and upcoming solar roof contenders, such as SunTegra. But there are other companies innovating in the thin-film, building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV), solar tile, solar blinds, and solar roof sector, such as Forward Labs, which is now taking reservations for its product for 2018.
Forward Labs, a startup based in Palo Alto, California, has developed a standing-seam style solar roofing solution that aims to blend in, rather than stand out. In fact, at first glance, it looks like nothing more than a normal metal roof, and could probably pass muster for even the most conservative HOA covenants, and yet it could provide decades of low-cost renewable energy. And not only that, it’s not just a solar tile or panel, but rather a layered system of components that combines a tempered glass surface and solar cells and a concealed racking system into “a brave new roof for our brave new world.”
The panels are available in eight different colors, thanks to the company’s inclusion of an “optical chromatic cloaking” layer that sits right below the glass and above the solar cells, which is said to produce “solar roofing in any color imaginable, while keeping the solar cell efficiencies high.” The company uses monocrystalline solar cells which have a claimed higher energy density than other solar roofing products, reaching 19W per square foot (compared to 11W per square foot for competitor’s offering), and according to the company, it could cost up to 33% less than a comparable solar roof from Tesla, while still producing the same amount of electricity.
Our goal in bringing our solar roof to market was threefold. We aimed to develop an integrated solar roof system that looks great, optimizes energy output, and accelerates the return on investment. Other solar roofs simply do not offer the same return that homeowners expect for their money.