Solar Shingles: A Place-based Solution to the NIMBY Problem

The “not in my back yard” (NIMBY) phenomenon has fueled strong opposition towards renewable energy sources, such as wind farms and solar panels (e.g., ABC, 2016). The unsightly aspects of large wind generators and solar panels can reduce the visually aesthetic appeal of a landscape (Figure 1). While wind and solar energies have the capacity to provide seemingly limitless amounts of energy for communities, the choices people make about investing in these energies are often resistive if the spatial burden is placed upon themselves. Despite a reluctance to adopt these sustainable technologies locally, new technology from Telsa, Inc. may provide a solution.

 Figure 1. Wind farm

Figure 1. Wind farm

In October of 2016, Telsa announced a new cost-effective and accessible form of solar energy that connects solar energy with the modern home owner. This surprisingly simple yet brilliant technology is solar cells embedded in roof shingles made of glass, effectively creating a solar roof (Scientific American, 2017). The solar shingles are incredibly durable and can survive a hail storm. The technology is also affordable and cost-effective compared to traditional asphalt shingles but is also visually attractive and come in many varieties (Figure 2). Solar shingles provides cognitive, technological, and structural fixes for behavior change by reducing the cost of installation and providing a reliable form of solar energy capture (Heberlein, 2012). Beyond creating and distributing a product with traditional marketing techniques, the CEO of Telsa, Elon Musk, has said that “people love their homes” (Bloomberg Technology, 2016). Understanding that a home owner has an emotional connection to their home, tesla created a product that a home owner can take pride in. Tesla has created a sleek product that tactfully engages NIMBY related fears but also fulfills the needs and desires of a modern home owner.

 Figure 2. The four different type of Telsa solar shingles

Figure 2. The four different type of Telsa solar shingles