A new day is dawning for the Powerhouse brand of in-roof solar shingles shelved in 2016 by the former Dow Chemical Co. for a plan to license the commercialization rights, which went to RGS Energy in October.
The Denver-based company, formally known as Real Goods Solar Inc., now has three partners lined up to take the third generation of the series, RGS Powerhouse 3.0 system, to the next level — and an asphalt roof near you. The updated system uses traditional silicon solar cells that RGS says significantly reduce cost while improving panel efficiency.
Last month, RGS received Underwriters Laboratories' approval for the resin to be used in the composite base structure of the shingle, which acts as both a roofing product and a source of power for the home. The resin certification was achieved with support from one of its partners, General Polymers Thermoplastic Materials LLC, in Clarkston, Mich.
And this week at NPE2018, another partner, injection molder Creative Liquid Coatings Inc., is looking for more equipment to manufacture the innovative system suitable for both re-roofing jobs and new construction.
RGS estimates the potential market for the updated Powerhouse system is 7 million U.S. homes a year, and if it can capture 1 percent of the addressable market through sales to roofers and homebuilders, the business could see $1 billion in sales.
Kendallville, Ind.-based CLC was ready to manufacture Powerhouse 2.0 until Dow unexpectedly pulled the plug. The business is ramping up for production again and has a KraussMaffei MX 2300 and MX 3200 on order with delivery due in the fourth quarter.
"Other significant capital plans are in the works to support Powerhouse production," CLC General Manager Stephen Geist told Plastics News. "I don't have details yet to share. We are still exploring some options. We will certainly be doing some shopping at NPE."
Production could begin in the third quarter if RGS gets UL certification beyond the resin for the entire system, which consists of a base assembly and electrical connector into which a solar laminate is inserted.
A third partner, Risen Energy Co. Ltd. in Shenzhen, China, a Tier 1 solar cell and module maker, will supply the solar laminate, connectors and wire harnesses. The first two versions of Powerhouse used copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) technology, but Dow developed the third iteration with traditional silicon solar cells to lower costs.
Dow holds numerous patents covering the technology and exclusively licensed them to RGS for a total of $3 million plus quarterly royalties of 2.5 percent of the net sale price of each licensed product.
"With its advanced, patented intellectual property and lower manufacturing costs than prior generations, Powerhouse 3.0 will be a major market differentiator for RGS, creating favorable high competitive barriers to entry that we've never enjoyed with our traditional solar business," RGS Energy CEO Dennis Lacey said in a news release last month.