SolarCity and Airbnb offer cash incentives on solar installations

As Tesla begins to make waves in the autonomous driving sphere, its sister company SolarCity has also branched-out into a new domain - partnering with hospitality company Airbnb to offer cash rebates on solar array installations.

Airbnb members and homeowners will be offered a rebate of up to $1,000 on all solar panel systems, providing they are located in an area where SolarCity operates. The solar company will handle all aspects of the installation, including finance and maintenance.

“Our partnership with Airbnb demonstrates the important role energy plays in our everyday lives – including travel – and how clean energy can reduce everyone’s carbon impact on the world,” SolarCity’s president of global sales and customer experience Toby Corey said.

“Homeowners that make the simple switch to solar energy can save money on utility bills and fix their energy costs for years to come. This partnership will create the first opportunity for many Airbnb guests to stay in a solar-powered home, and allow them to experience first-hand how easy it is to use clean energy to contribute to a cleaner, healthier society.”

The partnership will run through to March 2017, at which point the $1,000 promotion on behalf of SolarCity will drop to $750.

With market researchers the Cleantech Group estimating that Airbnb guest’s will be exposed to 61% less CO2 emissions by staying in Airbnb listed properties compared to hotels, the SolarCity partnership adds an extra low-carbon dimension to the scheme.

Cleantech Group has concluded that US Airbnb travellers have reduced water consumption by 4.2bn litres compared to overnight stays at hotels. Emission reductions are equivalent to keeping 560,000 cars off the road each year, while the amount of waste generated is also 37,000 tonnes less.

Research from the group also suggests that the energy consumption of guests has fallen by the equivalent of the amount of energy used by 280,000 each year. With an average SolarCity solar power system estimated to offset more than 150 metric tonnes of carbon during its lifetime, these numbers could soon be reduced further.

“Travelers, especially millennials, want a more sustainable choice and homeowners want to make better use of the 13 million empty houses and 36 million empty bedrooms in the United States alone,” Airbnb’s head of global public policy and communications Chris Lehane said. “We’re excited to work with SolarCity to make renewable energy more affordable and accessible to everyone in the Airbnb community.”

Autonomous Tesla

SolarCity looks set to play a pivotal role in Tesla founder Elon Musk’s plans to form a “clean energy dynasty”. After winning an approval to purchase SolarCity last month, Tesla has moved to establish a holistic and “vertically integrated” clean energy empire.

Owning SolarCity is part of a move to “complete the picture” for the motor company by aligning with the Tesla Energy subsidiary, which already allows home owners to store energy through the Powerwall and Powerpack products – with reservations already amounting to $1bn.

However, the acquisition hasn’t stopped Tesla from moving ahead with its electric vehicle (EV) ambitions, which look set to swell thanks to the anticipated launch of the Model 3 and the ongoing construction of the firm’s Gigafactory in Nevada.

Earlier this week, Tesla announced that all future EVs will be built with components that will allow the vehicles to drive autonomously. Each vehicle will also be synced with smartphone technology allowing the owner to “summon” the vehicle at the touch of a button.

Matt Mace

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