Solar shingles seem like the most logical application for the future of solar PV systems, serving two purposes – a roof and a solar PV system – by simply integrating the shingles into photovoltaic roofing. There are problems with the solar shingle system, slowing its mainstream marketability, but may work if the following obstacles can be overcome:
(1) The cost of solar shingles is not competitive with conventional solar electric PV modules. Costs might balance with high penetration into the photovoltaic industry, but that takes time.
(2) The physical constraints of solar electric roofing shingles do not allow for custom fitting to varying roof dimensions. This is an obstacle that is difficult and expensive to overcome.
(3) The solar roofing contractor’s training is limited to the narrow market of solar shingle manufacturers. The manufacturers will not train contractors in areas where sales are not profitable, so the solar shingle market restricts customers’ choices and is controlled exclusively by the manufacturer.
(4) Roof warranties can only be fulfilled by the solar roofing manufacturer and its own factory-trained solar roofers. Repairs may be delayed if there is not a trained contractor in the customer’s area. Roof damage not covered by the solar roofing manufacturer would be difficult or impossible to have repaired by conventional roofers who are not trained to work with solar shingles.
I would like to see this product succeed in the market, but no manufacturer has made a successful long-term run with residential solar roofing to date, and some who are attempting it have yet to make a profit in the photovoltaic industry.
Mainstream success of solar shingle roofing may happen, but it doesn’t appear to be coming in the near future.
NABCEP Certified Professional PV Installer
IREC Certified Master PV Trainer