Last week, Elon Musk unveiled Tesla’s latest development, solar roofing tiles.  As expected, Musk’s latest unveiling has received a lot of coverage, most hailing this new development and the unification of Musk’s grand plan of having homes 100% powered by clean energy.
Most interesting of all was a piece on Bloomberg Newsweek titled No One Saw Tesla’s Solar Roof Coming.
Not So Fast Bloomberg. Someone did not only see this coming, but had actually built it.  Strauss Energy in Kenya makes Solar Roofing Tiles. Think a less zannier version of what Musk unveiled. But the concept is exactemento, minus the camouflage.
Gearbox Executive Director holds a sample of Strauss Energy's solar tile as Juliana Rotich speaks when Zuckerberg paid a visit to the space in August. Strauss Energy is one of the hardware startups affiliated to Gearbox.
Gearbox Executive Director holds a sample of Strauss Energy’s solar tile as Juliana Rotich speaks when Zuckerberg paid a visit to the space in August. Strauss Energy is one of the hardware startups affiliated to Gearbox. ( Photo: Abu Okari)


Strauss Energy resulted from a Masters in Engineering dissertation by Tony Nyagah, who co-founded the company and is currently the CEO. The company has been developing the concept in the last three years, although it was registered in 2007.

They commission their first pilot in March at a primary school in Murang’a.
However, they have been active on the startup/VC circuit, trying to raise capital and creating awareness of their product; some of the competitions they have been taken part in include the Challenge Cup Festival in Washington DC last year , and  the GIST Tech-I Pitch competition held in Palo Alto during this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit.
Strauss’ solar tiles are 600 millimeters by 500 millimeters, and can each generate up to 35 watts of power at 100 percent efficiency.
Tesla’s product is zannier(of course), and Musk’s strategy of combining the product to his electric car vision makes it grander. He is basically building an ecosystem, which is better strategically in a scenario where the product could have been targeting a niche within an already niche market.
The tiles were the first product to be unveiled jointly by Tesla and Solar Century, which, if Musk gets his way will soon merge.
Strauss works to lighting up a big portion of the Kenya, where only 30% have access to reliable energy, and the rest of the continent.

9 Comment

  1. Thulani Mavimbela says: Reply

    My thinking exactly.

  2. Louis Wamukoya says: Reply

    Very sad this is not celebrated at home.

  3. Nancy Gachoka says: Reply

    Can anyone explain. Has Strauss patented their idea.

    1. ahntify says: Reply

      As per my knowledge. It is patented in Kenya.

      1. Yoman says: Reply

        Where did you get your info on the 30% energy stats. The last time i checked, Kenya was closer to 100% electrification thanks to the efforts by the currebt hit that number soonest..

  4. Jacob says: Reply

    There are many integrated solar roofing systems, and there have been for years, but the Tesla ones, are the first ones to look like a roof and not a roof with solar glued on to it. Like touch screen phones existed before the iPhone, but the touch wasn’t intuitive and usable.

  5. WhatEver says: Reply

    It’s not the same though, the above is obviously not what tesla wants. Tesla build a appealing tile, 4 different so far that cannot be seen as a soloar roof but rather looks like a normal roof. Its one piece, not like this a solar panel glued onto a tile. Same idea, not the same product or execution. There is a reason why this never took of before but pretty sure will in the future.

  6. Benvon Mbirua says: Reply

    Hi, i’ve done much of my electrical duties installing solar panel to my community. Now with the new design,i think it would a boost yo my job. Plis let me know where yo find you. I wish to learn more abt this project.

    1. ahntify says: Reply

      You can contact the company that builds the tiles through their website

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