Here's Elon Musk's latest project: Tesla's solar roof

Rebecca Smith
The solar roofing comes in four distinct style; this is Tuscan glass tile
The solar roofing comes in four distinct style; this is Tuscan glass tile (Source: Tesla)

You'd forgive Elon Musk for feeling pretty confident at the moment.

He has just surprised Wall Street with Tesla's first profit for three years, reporting net income of $21.9m (£17.9m) for the third quarter after 13 consecutive quarterly losses. Record deliveries helped offset rising expenses.

And now, the Tesla co-founder and chief executive has unveiled his latest project; roof tiles with built-in solar panels. The tiles are made from glass and intended to be a more attractive way to add solar panels to homes than what's currently available.

He revealed the tiles at a launch in Universal Studios, Los Angeles and said: "The key is it needs to beautiful, affordable, and seamlessly integrated. If all those things are true, why would you go in any other direction?"

He later provided more detail on Twitter, saying the roof was "robust against any weather" including heavy hail and had a higher insulating value than a standard roof.

The secret to the appearance (you can hardly tell the tiles are different to traditional versions) is a special coating that looks pretty much see-through depending on your viewing angle. Musk described them as a series of micro louvers functioning much like a privacy screen on a laptop. On closer inspection you can see the underlying solar cell.

Video footage also shows the strength of the roof; tougher than clay and slate. "It's never going to wear out, it's made of quartz," said Musk. "It has a quasi-infinite lifetime."

There are four different styles:

1. Slate glass tile roof

2. Textured glass tile roof

3. Smooth glass tile roof

4. Tuscan glass tile roof

The unveiling comes as Tesla is due to take over struggling energy company SolarCity.

Some investors have expressed reservations over the move, suggesting it is a Tesla-funded bail-out of a firm Musk has a particular interest in as its biggest shareholder. SolarCity's chief executive is Lyndon Rive, Musk's cousin.

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