Solar Slate Stud

Which solar charging roof system interests you…the one that looks like a real roof…or the ugly blue one?
Sorry if my language seems skewed (force of habit that I may or may not lose) yet its a real question in many areas of the world. In Germany, there are communities now outlawing the placement of the blue panels on rooftops purely for esthetic reasons! So how is the solar world going to react? Hopefully by remembering that customers are people that demand far more than function.
Picture this…you see an ad for a solar system…you get all enthused because the government is going to help subsidize your drive to save electric bills and do something good for the environment (usually in that order). You gather all the information to present to your life partner…and then he/she looks at you and says “but is there a different color?”. To date, most of the solar industry answers a big, blue NO!
At ICP we have developed a solar roof tile that looks like….a solar roof tile! It replaces the roof slate tiles used in Europe and more expensive homes in North America rather than be placed over it. At a solar show here in Freiburg, Germany (that’s where I am right now) people were lining up to get information. They just couldn’t believe that half of the tiles on our mocked-up roof were generating electricity. Stand ten feet away, and you could not tell which was solar and which was not.
Which brings me to the issue of how is the solar industry remembering that consumers have both “needs” and “wants”. We “need” it to work…but we “want” it to look good! Few have captured this theme. 99% of makers or distributors put out functional product without considering the esthetics or “subjective” determinants of a consumer’s reason-for-buying. This is the symptom of an industry which is currently sold out of capacity because “need”-based growth has outpaced supply. Why change if we don’t have to?
My suspicion is that as capacity catches up to demand, the industry will be in for some wake-up calls. Everyone is running down the same path, building the same type of factory to make the same type of solar panels. That’s the oil industry model..make it cheaper than anyone else and make a lot of it. I think that will be just fine…until someone offers consumers something they really want!
BIPV stands for “building-integrated-photovoltaics”..a fancy term which means that the building is equipped with materials that create its own power. Its an industry that is over twenty years old and is just now beginning to truly appeal to architects in their own language..form and appearance. ICP’s solar tile is the first tile that can’t be differentiated from an actual tile. We have not even received the necessary building permits yet and we have people lining up to try it offering their own homes as testing grounds. And they even want to pay for these tests just to be able to be the first ones on the block to ask their neighbors to “find the solar tile” (just like the game “find waldo” you used to play with your kids!).
If looks could kill…this solar tile stud has reminded me never to underestimate the power of “wow“. Is there a lesson for the solar industry..perhaps listen to the customer. Your loyalty to a brand depends on far more than dealing with an educated salesforce. You may be somewhat satisfied today with delivery of your “needs”, but that will only last as long as nobody comes up with a solution which gives you “wants”. The minute you are offered what you really want in a solar solution, now that’s when we will have listened to our customer!
Auf Wiedersehen für jetzt (“Tata for now”),


  1. Anonymous says:

    von Ihren Blog merke ich dass Sie ein liebevoller , familienlieb und Zielstrebiger Mensch, ein guter Leader, sebstbewusst ,allwissend, und sprachbegabt, von allen, Sie haben eine starke Personalitaet.
    nice Blog!

  2. Duane Vasquez says:

    I agree. I’ve been interested in Solar power sense the 1970s. It finally looks like solar is becoming economically viable, but when I search the web I find roofing companies that don’t understand solar and solar companies that don’t want to do roofing they want to stick their panels on top of your roof. A few have wied looking tiles that integrate into a roofing system but they look consiterably different than the rest of the tiles. At any rate the roofs are still expensive and stand out like a sore thumb. A few companies are getting close but so far I haven’t seen anyone get it right. I would love to see your roofing tiles and see it you got it right.

  3. tom says:

    It look nice. I like it very much.

  4. roof tiles says:

    I admire The finest tile makers using centuries old craftsmanship to build something so long lasting.

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