Dow’s Solar Shingles coming to a roof near you in 2011

Dow Chemical Co. will enter the solar market in 2011 with its building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) Powerhouse Solar Shingles. Over the past few months the company has made numerous announcements regarding the flexible shingles as it prepares them for the market.

The shingles are designed to be installed by roofers and use minimal interconnections, making them easier to integrate into a homeowner’s power supply.

To make the photovoltaic shingles, Dow uses copper indium gallium diselenide solar (CIGS) cells developed by Global Solar Energy Inc., then coats them in proprietary Dow plastics allowing the thin-film cells to remain flexible.

“We are their CIGS provider of choice. That is how the relationship is moving forward,” said Erin Del Llano, a spokesperson for Global Solar.

Global Solar is primarily focused on developing the cells, Del Llano said.

“What comes out of the Global Solar plant are the cells,” she said.

Other than that the company makes some modules, mainly foldable modules suitable for military applications like remote charging stations. The company also is integrating its modules into flexible roofing for commercial buildings, whereas Dow is focused on the residential market with its Powerhouse products, she said.

While Dow has not specified the efficiency of its Powerhouse products, Global Solar said its commercial modules are 12.6 percent efficient, making them less efficient than commercial crystalline silicon panels, but capable of producing 50 percent more energy and power than current amorphous silicon modules, the company said.

Dow has suggested that a $6,000 installation could provide about half an average U.S. home’s electricity. The cost includes the 30 percent federal rebate and state incentives, according to Reuters.

Dow has started producing shingles in expectation of launching them in 2011. In September 2010, the company announced, “The creation of 100 new, full-time jobs to support the development of its revolutionary Dow Powerhouse Solar Shingles at its facility in Midland, Michigan.”

In November, the company announced that it had received approval for the modules from Underwriters Laboratories (UL), further showing that the modules are readying for the market.

In a press release announcing UL certification, Dow Solar Vice President, Jane Palmieri said, “This represents a significant milestone toward bringing our Dow Powerhouse Solar Shingles to the market in 2011, and confirms that we are on track to deliver this pioneering new residential solar technology next year."

Image courtesy of Dow Chemicals Corp.of its Powerhouse Solar Shingles.