46% of American homeowners want rooftop solar – Tesla CEO Elon Musk says Tesla Energy could outgrow automotive business

46% of American homeowners want rooftop solar – Tesla CEO Elon Musk says Tesla Energy could outgrow automotive business

Tesla is mostly known for its car business, but the solar side of things – Tesla Energy – has been steadily increasing production and deployments of solar energy products in the past few years.

During the Q3 earnings call this year, Tesla's Senior Director of Energy Operations, Kunal Girotra, announced that the company achieved an increase of almost 50% in solar deployments over the last quarter, while storage products (Powerwall and Powerpack) grew by 15% to an all-time high of 477 megawatt hours. 

In addition, the company recently started offering solar-panels-as-a-service – enabling customers to invest in solar panels via a subscription rather than requiring a huge down payment upfront. The monthly payment depends on the size of the solar system and starts at $65. It's currently available in six US states.

On the same conference call, Tesla CEO Elon Musk called it a "no-brainer" due to its low cost and guaranteed ability to serve as a money printer.


"What a lot of people don't realize is, in California and in a number of other states, if you buy our sort of solar subscription or solar rental, there's no money down, and you instantly save on your utility bill, and there's no long-term contract.

It's really, do you want something that prints money? And if it doesn't print money, we'll fix it or take it back. It's kind of a no-brainer. And it sort of plays into Tesla's overarching strategy here which is effectively to become a giant distributor on the energy side."

Multiple studies published by Zillow and other organizations have shown that adding solar to your home instantly increases the value of your home up to 4%.

When adding a Powerwall, customers also get blackout protection – providing energy security even in the event of rolling blackouts, or if the power goes out for any other reason.

Many Tesla owners, such as Casey Neistat, have opted to become fully independent from the grid. By doing so, they not only reduce their utility bill, but also their overall carbon footprint by charging their EV with solar power.

This bodes well with the most recent solar poll published by Pew Research Center,  showing that 46% of US homeowners have “given serious thought to adding solar panels at their home in the past year.

96% of those surveyed say they want to save money on utility bills, with 87% citing a desire to help the environment, which should make Tesla the preferred energy solutions provider, given the cost advantages mentioned earlier and Tesla's mission of accelerating the advent of sustainable energy.

Furthermore, on January 1, 2020, a new Californian law requiring solar panels to be installed on all new buildings, goes into effect, which will likely provide another massive boost to solar deployments.

Lastly, Tesla recently released V3 of its solar roof – now called Solarglass roof as a nod to Game of Thrones' Dragonglass –, delivering significant improvements in energy density, cost and manufacturability compared to prior versions.

Solarglass roof integrates solar panels with regular tiles and provides the lowest cost per watt of any national solar panel provider – all while being comparable in price to a typical roof with solar panels. This should be most interesting to those looking to replace their roof soon.

With an increasing number of people considering solar, and many states promoting sustainable energy through legislation, it's obvious that Tesla Energy will not only act as a massive growth catalyst, but could potentially even outgrow the company's automotive business. 

"I think there is generally a lack of understanding or appreciation for the growth of Tesla Energy. I think both [energy and storage] over time will grow faster than automotive", Musk said earlier this year, adding that while energy products are starting from a smaller base, "year-over-year growth will be absolutely incredible."

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Vivien Hantusch

Vivien Hantusch

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