Tesla (TSLA) achieves best solar deployment in years, but solar roof is still at a crawl


Tesla has achieved its best solar deployment in the US residential solar market since back in 2017 after acquiring SolarCity, but its solar roof deployment is still at a crawl.

While Tesla fans and shareholders often like to say that Tesla is not just an “automaker” but a tech company, or even an AI-company based on CEO Elon Musk’s more recent comments, based on revenue, Tesla is very much an automaker.

Its energy division, which deploys solar power systems and stationary battery packs for energy storage, represents a much smaller part of its business. The company still has the ambition to become a “global decentralized electric utility,” and Musk has said that he expects Tesla’s energy division to eventually be as big or bigger than its automotive division.

That’s still far from a reality considering Tesla Energy brought in $616 million out of the $18.7 billion in revenue the company made last quarter.

The division has had ups and downs with solar deployment being unstable and a hard time ramping up its solar roof product, which directly embeds solar cells in roof tiles instead of installing solar panels on existing roofs.

Today, Electrek learned that Tesla is making progress with its solar installation as its US residential division, which represents the vast majority of its solar deployment, had its best quarter since 2017 right after the acquisition of SolarCity.

A source familiar with the matter confirmed that Tesla deployed 71.5 MW of solar system in the US residential solar market in Q2 2022. The final number reported by Tesla at the end of the month will be higher since it will include some commercial installations and some installations outside the US.

The bad news is that Tesla’s solar roof product deployment is still disappointedly low.

Tesla has never revealed the mix of solar deployment between solar panels (solar retrofit) and solar roof. The closer it got to releasing data was its previous disclosure that it produced 4 MW of solar tiles in one week in 2020, but that is the actual production of the product and not installation.

In a quarterly report last year, Tesla also said that it doubled solar roof installations, but without revealing the actual deployment rate.

Now Electrek can confirm for the first time that Tesla has deployed 2.5 MW of solar roofs during the second quarter of 2022.

With a conservative average system output of 8 kW, it would mean that Tesla was able to deploy solar roofs on about 300 houses in Q2 or about 23 roofs per week.

Electrek’s Take

It’s nice to see Tesla ramp up its overall solar deployment, but it is clear that Tesla still relies primarily on solar panels.

The solar roof deployment has been quite disappointing.

CEO Elon Musk had set the goal of Tesla deploying 1,000 solar roofs per week, but it looks like the company is roughly at 23 per week as of last quarter.

That’s despite now Tesla deploying version three of the solar roof.

It’s not clear what is the bottleneck at this point. We know that Tesla had a hard time testing the longevity of the roof, but it hasn’t talked about that challenge in years. The installations themselves can be quite hard too as roofs are often very different and therefore hard to standardize.

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