Dow to Sell Solar Roof Shingles

MIDLAND, MI — Dow Chemical Company is marrying thin-film solar panels to conventional asphalt roofing shingles to create a product that the firm says will be easier to install and cheaper to buy.

The company plans to market the Powerhouse solar shingles from Dow Solar Solutions on a limited basis starting in mid 2010, and says it expects to make the solar shingles more widely available the following year.

Dow showed off its new product this week at a presentation at company headquarters in Midland.

Dow Solar Solutions anticipates an "enthusiastic response from roofing contractors since no specialized skills or knowledge of solar array installations are required," the company said in a statement.

"Dow's technology addresses two of the biggest challenges associated with solar power -- cost and acceptance," said Jane Palmieri, Solar Solutions' managing director. "Consumers reap the benefits of our innovation. This is about providing roof protection and electricity generation all from one product, with lower costs, improved aesthetics, easier installation and long-lasting performance."

Palmieri told the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times that Dow's solar shingles will be 10 percent to 15 percent cheaper than a standard solar-power rack and as much as 40 percent cheaper than a full, building-integrated solar-power installation.

Dow estimates that the new product could be a $5 billion market by 2015. The company will get its thin-film solar from Global Solar Energy Inc. of Tucson, Arizona.

Dow's plans for its new product line drew plaudits from Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. She is working to transform Michigan from a Rust Belt state to a hub for a new green economy.

"Making Michigan a leader in manufacturing green energy products continues to be a key part of our economic plan to grow the economy and create jobs," Granholm said in a prepared statement. "Dow's solar shingles are another example of local research and development helping grow our green economy, and I applaud Dow's ongoing commitment to developing green energy solutions right here in Michigan."

Images courtesy of Dow.