The world’s biggest roofing and waterproofing manufacturer is launching a rooftop solar business in the United States with the declared goal of “revolutionizing” adoption of the technology by “everyday consumers”.
“As the largest global player in roofing and waterproofing, we will reshape the way clean solar energy becomes a reality for everyone,” said David Millstone, co-CEO of Standard Industries, which counts roofer GAF as its flagship company. “We believe that roofing is real estate, and we see a future with energy from every roof.”
He added that the new company, GAF Energy, “will empower people to put their roofs to work with technology that is attractive, accessible, and affordable.”
By working alongside GAF and targeting its existing roofing customers, the new company “believes that it can move faster than other solar installation companies,” Fast Company reports.
“The scale of the roofing industry is an order of magnitude greater than the solar industry,” said GAF Energy President Martin DeBono. “GAF Energy can now give those customers a simple option: a roof or a solar roof.”
Fast Company notes that “customer acquisition is a challenge for other solar installers: Around five million homes are reroofed in the U.S. each year, DeBono says, but fewer than 300,000 get solar power. By offering solar as a standard option when getting a new roof, that could change.”
The product itself will look more like a Tesla solar shingle than a rooftop solar panel, the publication adds. “The company will sell PV panels that are engineered to install like skylights, so they become a seamless part of the roof, avoiding the risk of leaks that DeBono says are possible if solar panels are attached to a roof on separate racks,” explains staff writer Adele Peters. “Installing at the same time as the rest of the roof helps keep costs low.”
GAF Energy will work with regional installers that haven’t had access until now to the specialized personnel to install rooftop solar. The start-up also has plans to simplify permitting and financing to the extent it can.
“We’re taking complicated installation logistics out of the equation for contractors to make choosing solar easier and more convenient,” DeBono said.
A recent analysis by Credit Suisse showed that only about 3% of U.S. homes had rooftop solar in 2017, compared to 30% in Australia, RenewEconomy notes, in a post republished by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. The banking giant saw total U.S. installations of 10.5 gigawatts in 2017 increasing to 12.8 GW in 2018, and up to 41.2 GW by 2025.