Elon Musk’s energy company, SolarCity, is expected to unveil a new solar roofing product this week. The famous magnate and engineer will enter a field where a few big companies failed, and where a pair of brothers from Michigan has thrived.
Huffington Post reports that Robert and Gary Allen of Luma Resources have been installing solar roof systems for nearly a decade. Solar roofs differ from typical PV panels because the shingles themselves are integrated with photovoltaic cells, which provides a sleeker, more customized appearance.
While Luma is still competing, many other larger manufacturers have bowed out.
Solar shingles ― “building-integrated photovoltaics,” or BIPVs, in industry jargon ― have proved a challenging business. Though Saint-Gobain is still selling its Apollo system, Dow discontinued its product in June 2016. At least a dozen other companies producing solar shingles or similar products have closed down or gone bankrupt in the last few years.