Powerhouse-brand solar shingles, which install like traditional asphalt roofing products, have returned to the marketplace with Novi, Mich.-based Revere Plastics Systems LLC again molding and assembling components.
The roofing shingle that functions as a solar panel was developed by Midland, Mich.-based Dow Inc. more than a decade ago to serve as both a building product that can be used to replace asphalt roofs and a source of electricity.
Installed flush to the roof, the product looks better than mounted panels tilted toward the sun and can be installed for a lot less money, the company says.
Made with polypropylene for the composite base structure, Powerhouse 3.0 hit the marketplace in January 2019 after Dow licensed Denver-based Real Goods Solar Inc. — which did business as RGS Energy — as the distributor.
The initial interest was so strong, two injection molders were lined up. In addition to Revere, Creative Liquid Coatings Inc. in Kendallville, Ind., was to be part of the supply chain producing the in-roof solar shingles.
Ningbo, China-based Risen Energy Co. Ltd. continues to supply the solar components and wire harness connectors.
Powerhouse shingles only made it onto about 1,000 roofs, however. As RGS tried to commercialize the product, it ran out of financing and went bankrupt.
"They were able to get many roofs installed, but then everything just stopped," said Doug Drummond, vice president of sales and marketing at Revere. "Despite all the interest, they couldn't get it going. It's not that the product failed. They weren't able to get it to market appropriately."
RGS Energy officials had tried to raise $20 million. After falling very short of the goal, they filed for bankruptcy on Jan. 31, 2020, and laid off all employees.
Revere officials kept the inventory and tools it had through the court proceedings and watched to see what would happen to the Powerhouse brand.
"Revere will not be the roofer or the home builder. We are the plastic injection molder and assembler that will produce these products for the market," Drummond said.
Company officials talked to other businesses in the space to stir up interest, with Minnesota-based Plan A Solar deciding to partner with Revere. Revere will manufacture the shingles while Plan A Solar will own the brand and handle distribution and installation.
All the mechanical plastic pieces and how they connect are still the same as 2019, Drummond said, but the product offers better performance in terms of solar capacity.
"There's backward compatibility with what was made in the past," Drummond said.
As the company ramps up production at its manufacturing plant in Clyde, Ohio, Revere just needs to add staff.
"We had already done everything to be ready from an equipment and assembly standpoint," Drummond said. "Everything had been established. Our plant had to be certified and that was completed. Everything was ready to go."
If orders reach a certain critical mass, Revere will plan to expand capacity.
"I do truly believe as this product gets to the market and as people see how to looks and performs in real life it will have a real snowball effect and take off," Drummond said.