October 06, 2009
Dow Brings Out Line Of Photovoltaic Solar Shingles

Using thin film copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) coated onto roof tiles Dow is going into the business of selling solar photovoltaic tiles for roofs.

The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW) today unveiled its line of DOW™ POWERHOUSE™ Solar Shingle, revolutionary photovoltaic solar panels in the form of solar shingles that can be integrated into rooftops with standard asphalt shingle materials. The solar shingle systems are expected to be available in limited quantities by mid-2010 and projected to be more widely available in 2011, putting the power of solar electricity generation directly and conveniently in the hands of homeowners.

Groundbreaking technology from Dow Solar Solutions (DSS) integrates low-cost, thin-film CIGS photovoltaic cells into a proprietary roofing shingle design, which represents a multi-functional solar energy generating roofing product. The innovative product design reduces installation costs because the conventional roofing shingles and solar generating shingles are installed simultaneously by roofing contractors. DSS expects an enthusiastic response from roofing contractors since no specialized skills or knowledge of solar array installations are required.

PV tiles have some advantages over PV panels. The most obvious is that the panels are an additional step to install and with additional bracketing. When a house is first constructed or it needs a new roof laborers already install tiles. The incremental labor cost of installing PV tiles rather than conventional tiles is smaller than the cost of of installing PV panels.

Dow claims their shingles cut labor installation costs by more than half.

The Dow shingles can be installed in about 10 hours, compared with 22 to 30 hours for traditional solar panels, reducing the installation costs that make up more than 50 percent of total system prices.

When you'll know solar PV has hit the mainstream: prefabricated housing will come with optional PV roofs. Seriously, house factories have lower labor costs because they can use much more automation. PV installation on pre-fab housing as shingles or other roofing material could be done at very low labor cost in a housing factory.

Global Solar Energy, the company which makes the PV material that Dow is using, has recently achieved 15.45% efficiency with their CIGS PV material. That's a substantial step up from the efficiency of the PV they are currently selling and close to the efficiency of silicon-based PV.

Global Solar Energy, Inc., the premier manufacturer of Copper Indium Gallium diSelenide (CIGS) thin film solar products, today announced that the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the nation’s primary laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development, confirmed 15.45 percent total area efficiency for Global Solar’s production level CIGS material. Adding to this news, Global Solar announces a peak efficiency of 11.7 percent for production CIGS solar cell strings manufactured at its 35-megawatt German and 40-megawatt U.S. plants.

Global Solar Energy's 75 MW yearly production capacity is small potatoes. Nanosolar's new PV plant in Germany has a yearly production capacity of 640 MW. Solyndra just started construction on a new production facility with a planned yearly 500 MW production capacity. While Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. has announced plans for a thin film PV plant with a 900 MW yearly production capacity. Yet Dow is forecasting billions of dollars per year in sales for their PV shingles. If the demand develops then either Global Solar will have to scale up in a hurry or Dow's going to need another partner.

A New York Times article reports on other PV roofing material makers. For the home market PV tile will probably become the preferred choice.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 October 06 11:43 PM  Energy Solar

Allan said at October 7, 2009 11:52 AM:

So what is the price per square?

Nick G said at October 7, 2009 6:47 PM:

It's worth keeping in mind that the residential PV market isn't the important area: Industrial/Commercial is.

In California, 80% of installations are residential, but 80% of PV MWs is I/C. Much larger size and flat roofs reduce costs substantially.

kwo said at October 10, 2009 11:59 AM:

How is the current carried? 15% PV efficiency sounds good, but what about the transport efficiency?

TTT said at October 10, 2009 2:51 PM:

The real killer ap will not be shingles, but photovoltaic asphalt.

When parking lots and roads can be paved with photovoltaics, then we have something. The land area covered by parking lots and roads is immense. Just look at Google Maps. At least half of all the area in any suburban community is roads and parking lots.

Jim E said at October 10, 2009 8:33 PM:

Win Win. Reduced heat absorption due to energy conversion, highest energy availability during highest need for AC!

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