The Tesla solar roof is a wonderful innovative technology that will revolutionize the solar industry especially as more companies start to produce their own solar roofs. Tesla launched their solar roof with combined Powerwall battery system this week and everyone got very excited. But how excited should we be in Jamaica?
Here at Solar Buzz we get a lot of calls regarding new technology and the solar roof has been on people’s minds for 7 months since the initial announcement. My response to prospective solar clients would be to not get too excited about owning a solar roof in Jamaica anytime soon, for a few reasons:
A 2,000sf roof would cost J$10,500,000 before shipping and is estimated to offset 70% of your electricity bill. Florida has a solar tax credit but Jamaica has much higher energy costs so let’s say these even out for simplicity. A rough payback of this roof in Jamaica would be about 20yrs which puts us back to the early days of solar when regular panels were expensive at US$2/watt compared to US$0.50/watt now. Solar did not sell in those early days because the payback was too long. Actually solar is very cheap now and the solar market still struggles in Jamaica! This is mostly due to the lack of and a tedious financing process in Jamaica but that’s a whole different thesis.
This assessment is not to discourage anyone towards the solar roof as eventually all roofs will be made of solar tiles. However until that time conventional solar systems are at their most inexpensive levels of all time. A homeowner could buy a new roof and install a traditional solar system to offset 100% of electricity costs and payback for both in half the time of a Tesla solar roof right now. Eventually this will change but at this moment in time do not bank on a solar roof being available in Jamaica or feasible for many years to come. The time you spend waiting on the Tesla solar roof in Jamaica you could have bought a traditional solar system, a new roof and paid off both through your energy savings.
Solar Buzz Jamaica CEO-Jason Robinson
Electric car maker Tesla has added another product to its line-up: Solar roof tiles.
As of Wednesday, customers worldwide could order a solar roof on Tesla’s website. Installations will begin next month in the United States, starting with California. Installations outside the US will begin next year, the company said.
The glass tiles were unveiled by Tesla last fall just before the company merged with solar panel maker SolarCity Corp. They’re designed to look like a traditional roof, with options that replicate slate or terracotta tiles. The solar tiles contain photovoltaic cells that are invisible from the street.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said one of the drawbacks to home solar installations has been the solar panels themselves: They’re often awkward, shiny and ugly. Buyers will want Tesla’s roof, he said, because it looks as good or better than a normal roof.
“When you have this installed on your house, you’ll have the best roof in the neighbourhood. The aesthetics are that good,” Musk said in a conference call with media.
The roof is guaranteed for the life of the home, which is longer than the 20-year lifespan for a typical, non-solar roof, Musk said. It has gone through the same hail, fire and wind testing that normal roofs endure.
Tesla’s website includes a calculator where potential buyers can estimate the cost of a solar roof based on the size of their home, the amount of sunlight their neighbourhood receives and federal tax credits. They can also put down a refundable US$1,000 deposit to reserve a place in line.
Tesla said the solar tiles cost US$42 per square foot to install, making them far more costly than slate, which costs around US$17 per square foot, or asphalt, which costs around US$5. But homes would only need between 30 and 40 per cent of their roof tiles to be solar; the rest would be Tesla’s cheaper non-solar tiles which would blend in with the solar ones.
It would cost US$69,100 to install a solar roof with 40-percent solar tiles on a 2,600-square-foot roof in suburban Detroit, according to Tesla’s website. That includes a US$7,000 Tesla Powerwall, a battery unit that stores the energy from the solar panels and powers the home. The roof would be eligible for a US$15,500 federal tax credit and would generate an estimated US$62,100 in electricity over 30 years. Over that time period, Tesla estimates, the homeowner would save US$8,500.
Tesla said the typical homeowner can expect to pay US$21.85 per square foot for a Tesla solar roof. The cost can be rolled into the homeowner’s mortgage payments and paid for over time, the company said.
Musk wouldn’t say how many orders the company expects to get this year. He expects the initial ramp-up to be slow.
“It will be very difficult and it will take a long time, and there will be some stumbles along the way. But it’s the only sensible vision of the future,” Musk said.
Palo Alto, California-based Tesla Inc is making the solar tiles at its Fremont, California, factory initially. But eventually all production will move to a joint Tesla and Panasonic Corp factory in Buffalo, New York. Panasonic makes the photo-voltaic cells used in the solar tiles.
Tesla said it will be installing equipment in the Buffalo factory over the next few months.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) said it would consider financing projects for waste to energy in Jamaica, but cautioned that the cost of doing so would have to be around US$0.12 per kilowatt hour for it to make sense to consumers.
“We could finance waste to energy,” but “at the end of the day, it’s going to come down to the cost. I think that’s a key component which I don’t know if it has been fully analysed,” said lead investment officer at the IDB, Stefan Wright.
He said that if solar energy was currently being produced at US$0.12/kWh,”it makes no sense financing waste-to-energy at US$0.20/kWh because JPS [Jamaica Public Service Company] won’t buy that.”
Renewable energy is a focus of the Inter-American Investment Corporation, the private-sector arm of the IDB which last year reorganised three of its four private-sector windows specifically to be more strategic, align with the IDB’s country strategy and become more effective in terms of how the Bank deploys private sector resources, Wright told a Gleaner Editors’ Forum on Tuesday.
“We are working with entities in Jamaica now to finance renewable energy projects,” said Wright, noting that Jamaica has done a good job in bringing more renewable energy on the grid and reducing the 90 per cent oil bill, “and we are very much interested in partnering with those entities who want financing”.
Referring to Jamaica’s main garbage-disposal sites, including the Riverton dump in Kingston, Wright said it would be good to be able to use those resources in a more environmentally friendly way, “but at the end of the day it must make sense for consumers”.
He also pointed to the Government’s efforts, announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness with the formation of an enterprise team in October last year, to manage the State’s waste-to-energy programme, contracting out of solid-waste management and collection and divestment of the Riverton City landfill.
At that time, Holness was quoted as saying that the Government had received more than 30 expressions of interests to either bid on the waste-to-energy programme or to collect solid waste or both.
“We stand ready to finance projects which come out of that,” said the investment officer, noting that after the tender process is completed, entities wishing to invest in the facility would seek financing from the IDB to make the business a reality.
However, he pointed out that one of the key requirements is that such entities engaging in such energy supply programmes must obtain power purchase agreements from the JPS.
“So we are certainly willing to help to participate in that,” he said. “We will finance any sustainable project which is helping to generate economic growth,” he added, noting that the IDB was offering loans between US$5 million and US$200 million per project, “and we don’t have any country limits now in terms of what we can finance”.
Wright said “we are looking at a number of projects and renewable energy and waste energy is something that we would certainly consider.”
General manager for the IDB’s Caribbean Country Department, Therese Turner-Jones, who also participated in the forum, said she has been to a series of renewable-energy conferences where private-sector interests offer various solutions, “and they look at the Caribbean as being ripe for investment because we’ve done so little”.
Comparing Jamaica with Hawaii, where the goal is 100 per cent renewables, Turner-Jones, noted that the US state is “almost there”.
“So it’s possible (for Jamaica) to do it. The technology exists,” she added.
JPS, which controls power distribution, is now reporting that renewables should account for around 12 per cent of its electricity production this year. Jamaica is aiming for a mix of 30 per cent by 2030.
With the expected April 2019 departure of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union, British Member of Parliament (MP) Dawn Butler has said that the relationship among the UK, Jamaica, and the wider Commonwealth now has added importance, which should result in mutual energy benefits.
The leader of a three-member delegation on a visit to the island to explore renewable energy opportunities, Butler told The Gleaner during an interview at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Wednesday that she was optimistic about connecting with small countries to maximise all available renewable sources.
“At the end of the day, what would satisfy me the most is if the delegation has found ways in which we can collaborate and build sustainable relations with Jamaica that we can carry beyond the 2030 vision, and also if a solution can be discovered to reduce our carbon emissions.”
She added: “The drawback to renewable [energy] is finding investors for the initial outlay and technology. What follows is the concern of regaining the money, but in the wider scheme of things, there’s no disadvantage. Non-renewable energy is an international problem, and as global warming gets worse, the effect on islands such as [those in] the Caribbean is devastating.”
Born to two Jamaican parents and MP for Brent Central, the British constituency with the largest number of Jamaicans, Butler further disclosed that Jamaica had not been capitalising on its branding power had outside of solar energy.
“Jamaica has a worldwide brand that other people get rich from and Jamaica hardly benefits. There is other infrastructure that needs to be put in place to ensure consistency of produce and other things Jamaican, but Jamaica has the environment and the human resource to catapult itself to higher heights.”
Butler and the delegation are expected to hold talks on renewable energy with Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Andrew Wheatley prior to their departure tomorrow.
Concurrently, the addition of the 80MW of renewable energy saved 800,000 metric tonnes in toxic carbon emissions, according to the energy ministry.
These factors allowed Jamaica to breathe cleaner air and climb in the Global Energy Architecture Performance Index (EAPI). It’s unknown whether these emission savings were converted into carbon credits.
Jamaica improved six spots to 92 worldwide to become a global case study for energy diversification, according to the annual EAPI study produced by the World Economic Forum.
Trading partner and oil producer Trinidad & Tobago inched up one spot to 109, from 110 a year earlier.
The Global Energy Architecture Performance Index Report 2017 indicated that Jamaica, Mexico and Uruguay, all developing countries, made strides in their energy sector performance since 2009.
In Jamaica last year, Wigton Wind Farm III added 24MW of renewable capacity, BMR Windfarm added 36.3MW, and WRB Content Solar, 20MW.
“[It resulted] in a cut in CO2 emissions of at least 800,000 metric tonnes between 2014 and 2016,” stated the energy ministry in response to Financial Gleaner queries.
“The 80.30MW of renewable energy added to the grid represents a reduction of 413,781 barrels of oil imported per year,” the ministry said via email.
Another 100MW of capacity is expected to be developed by energy investors this year, for which the bidding process is under way, it added.
Jamaica is pressing ahead with its renewable programme even as oil prices remain subdued.
The price of oil averaged US$43.33 for WTI crude and US$43.74 for Brent crude in 2016, according to the US-based Energy Information Administration statistics.
The ministry credited Jamaica’s energy successes to the aggressive implementation of the National Energy Policy – NEP 2009-2030. In ensuring that Jamaica’s energy infrastructure is as efficient, safe and competitive as possible, the NEP has within its plan of action the formulation of a new Electricity Act which provides for and promotes renewables in the energy sector, added the ministry.
The amended electricity law, in effect since 2015, was also a deliverable of the Energy Security Efficiency and Enhancement Project. That programme also oversaw the delivery of the natural gas policy and regulations, and the smart grid road map.
Jamaica appears set to surpass its initial target of 20 per cent renewables by 2030 under the restructuring of its energy mix away from crude. The ministry said the goal has already been reset higher to 30 per cent renewables by 2030.
“All things remaining equal, Jamaica will surpass the ’20 in 30′ target and we are now aiming for ’30 in 30′,” the ministry said.
The energy efficiency programme has so far saved the government $131.5 million, which translates to a 2,768-metric tonne reduction in carbon emissions.
President of the Jamaica Public Service Company, JPS, Kelly Tomblin, is rejecting claims that she’s using scare tactics to keep businesses from turning to renewable sources of energy.
In an interview yesterday on Nationwide This Morning, Chief Executive Officer of Solar Buzz Jamaica, Jason Robinson, accused JPS of using ‘scare tactics’.
This was in response to comments attributed to Ms. Tomblin in a recent Gleaner report that the company could be forced to raise electricity rates if its top customers leave the grid.
But speaking with Nationwide News yesterday, Ms. Tomblin sought to clarify the comments she made to the Gleaner newspaper.
She’s insisting she’s not using a scare tactics.
Ms. Tomblin says she would prefer companies stay on the power grid.
This, as the intermittent use of the grid is more of a burden on JPS than if a company were to be removed completely.
And, Ms. Tomblin says the JPS doesn’t build LNG plants contrary to Mr Robinson’s claim.
He’d said the light and power company has been offering to set up small LNG plants for large companies, which would also take them off the grid.
She’s also refuting his claim that JPS’s rates are going up.
CEO of Solar Buzz Jamaica, Jason Robinson, says the Jamaica Public Service Company, JPS, is using scare tactics to keep businesses from leaving the grid and turning to alternative energy.
In a recent interview with the Gleaner newspaper, JPS CEO Kelly Tomblin was quoted as saying that it could be forced to raise electricity rates if its top customers leave their grid.
Robinson says could mitigate any losses from clients who’ve switched to alternative energy by running a more efficient operation and doing more to combat theft.
He says JPS is already doing a lot to diversify its own fuel sources to keep energy costs down.
And, Robinson is also criticizing the power company for being hypocritical.
He claims JPS has been offering to set up small LNG plants for large companies, which would also take them off the grid.