As part of a $50 million initiative to develop photovoltaic roofing shingles, Dow Chemical Co. is investing in injection molding.
The company is installing a 1,350-ton Husky Quadloc Tandem injection press at its Midland, Mich. headquarters. Dow refurbished and added about 21,000 square feet of space to a previously shuttered plant.
The 47,000-square-foot facility will serve as the hub of Dow's research and development efforts to get commercially viable solar shingles to market.
The facility, which will have 22 workers, will be complete and operational by the end of 2009, Dow spokeswoman Jennifer Heronema said in a Nov. 25 telephone interview.
Dow is developing solar energy-collection technology that it calls ``building integrated photovoltaics.''
The technology allows solar energy-generation materials to be incorporated into the design of commercial and residential building materials, such as roofing systems and exterior siding, a Dow news release said.
The average cost of electricity purchased from a utility is about 8 cents per kilowatt hour. Solar power costs about three times more, the release said. As part of a Department of Energy program called the Solar America Initiative, Dow and other team members plan to cut the cost of solar-generated power to less than 10 cents per kilowatt hour by 2015.
Today, solar technology is based on mounting silicon-based solar cells, packaged in heavy glass panels, on rooftops, according to the release. The panels are expensive and difficult to install, making the power they generate many times more costly than power generated by utility companies.
Heronema said the solar shingle looks similar to a traditional roofing shingle.
``It's integrated right into the roofing,'' she said. ``It's one of the big selling points. It can be installed by roofing contractors at the same time they're shingling the house.''
Dow officials said the shingles will be able to generate 30-100 percent of the energy needed to run the structure on which they are installed.