The Dow Chemical Company today unveiled its line of DOW Powerhouse Solar Shingles, revolutionary photovoltaic solar panels in the form of solar shingles that can be integrated into rooftops with standard asphalt shingle materials. Putting the power of solar electricity generation directly and conveniently in the hands of homeowners, Dow will distribute the shingles in limited quantities by mid-2010, and broaden their availability in 2011.
The Powerhouse system integrates low-cost, thin-film CIGS photovoltaic cells into a roofing shingle design, reducing the installation costs of solar panels because the shingles are installed alongside conventional ones simultaneously by roofing contractors — cutting solar’s overall costs. Reuters reports, “Dow is using CIGS cells that operate at higher than 10 percent efficiency, below the efficiencies for the top polysilicon cells — but would cost 10 to 15 percent less on a per watt basis.”
No specialized skills or knowledge of solar array installations are required for roofers. “This is just one example of how Dow’s $1.5 billion annual R&D investment is allowing us to deliver practical solutions for some of the world’s most critical challenges,” said Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew N. Liveris.
The Company received $20 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop “building integrated” solar arrays for the residential and commercial markets.
The shingles were showcased early last week at an event at Dow’s Michigan at the Company’s headquarters in Midland, Michigan with the governor in attendance: “Making Michigan a leader in manufacturing green energy products continues to be a key part of our economic plan to grow the economy and create jobs,” said Michigan’s Jennifer M. Granholm. “Dow’s solar shingles are another example of local research and development helping grow our green economy.”
Dow’s technology addresses two of the biggest challenges associated with solar power – cost and acceptance. “This is about providing roof protection and electricity generation all from one product, with lower costs, improved aesthetics, easier installation and long-lasting performance,” said the product specialist.