As the sun descended over the old Hollywood set of "Desperate Housewives," Elon Musk took to a stage and fired up his presentation about climate change. It was a strange scene, with hundreds of people crowded into the middle of a subtly artificial suburban neighborhood.
It wasn't until about a minute into the speech that Musk casually let the crowd in on Tesla's big secret. "The interesting thing is that the houses you see around you are all solar houses," Musk said. "Did you notice?"
The answer, in short, was no. If anything, the slate and Spanish clay roofs looked a bit too nice for a television set.
This is the future of solar, Musk proclaimed. "You'll want to call your neighbors over and say 'check out the sweet roof.' It's not a phrase you hear often."
The roof tiles are actually made of textured glass. From most viewing angles, they look just like ordinary shingles, but they allow light to pass through from above onto a standard flat solar cell.
Tesla says the tempered glass is "tough as steel," and can weather a lifetime of abuse from the elements. It can also be fitted with heating elements to melt snow in colder climates. "It's never going to wear out," Musk said, "It's made of quartz."
Tesla will build and sell its own line of solar panels to combine with its battery storage system. The system will allow residential homeowners to replace their entire roof with solar panels connected to an updated Powerwall 2 battery pack, making it much simpler for homes to be entirely powered by solar power.
The new Tesla roof tiles will be available next summer, Musk said, with rollout starting in California. He didn't give details about cost or efficiency.