Dow Chemical Co. has begun commercial deliveries of its Powerhouse solar shingles, and is ramping up production at its pilot plant in Midland, Mich.
The solar shingles hit the Colorado market Oct. 13, and Dow plans to roll the solar shingles out to 12 more states, including California and Texas, over the next 18 months. Current production is 400 shingles daily, Dow said.
A plant for full-scale commercial production is currently under construction in Midland. Dow said it expects the facility to employ 1,275 and create a $1 billion revenue stream by 2015, when it will have the capacity to make enough shingles for 40,000-50,000 homes.
Dow Solar said it launched the solar shingles in Colorado because of the state's “solar-susceptible environment,” high energy costs and a state government incentive program designed to encourage consumers to buy such products.
Luxury homebuilder D.R. Horton said it will make the shingles standard on the next phase of 50 homes the company plans to build in the upscale Spring Mesa community in Arvada, Colo., outside Denver.
Each home will have a 3-kilowatt array of the thin-film copper indium gallium diselenide photovoltaic shingles, which are designed to look like conventional roof shingles.
Dow estimates a new solar shingle system, including the shingles and an energy converter box, will cost between $10,000 and $15,000 in states that offer government solar incentives. The company estimates the solar shingles will reduce energy costs by 50 percent, with the shingles paying for themselves somewhere in a five- to 12-year time frame.
Initially, the shingles will be sold through dealers, not big-box retailers, Dow said.
“The early-on focus is going to be with homebuilders and a network of roofing contractors to support new building and re-roofing applications,” said Dow Solar marketing director Dan Pezolt.
The solar cells are integrated by Dow into a proprietary polymeric-based shingle through injection molding. The interlocking shingles are designed to be used alongside asphalt shingles on a standard roofing underlayment. They can be installed with standard roofing nails at the same time asphalt shingles are installed.
The three-part solar roofing package includes an array of shingles, an inverter and an energy-monitoring system. Shingles are arranged to complement a home's style, form and roofline. The solar energy is converted into alternating current and fed to the home's appliances, or back to the power grid.
Dow's solar business received $20 million in funding in 2007 from the Department of Energy to develop new residential solar products.