Dow Says Out With Solar Panels, In With Solar Shingles

By Eliza Strickland | October 6, 2009 2:58 pm

rooferForget those bulky rooftop solar panels–the hot new thing in solar energy could be rooftop shingles that convert sunlight into electricity, and that blend in seamlessly with the standard asphalt shingles that top most houses. Dow Chemical has announced that it will begin selling its Powerhouse Solar Shingles in limited quantities in 2010, with a full roll-out the following year.

Dow executive Jane Palmieri says the shingle incorporates a low-cost, thin-film photovoltaic cell device for capturing solar energy. Roofing contractors do not need specialized skills to install the product, she said. The cost was estimated by Palmieri at $27,000 for an array of solar shingles to offset 60 percent of a home’s power consumption [AP]. While that may seem pricey, it’s still far below the cost of an equivalent solar panel system.

Dow expects the shingles to catch on with roofing contractors because they can be installed in about 10 hours, compared with 22 to 30 hours for traditional solar panels, reducing the installation costs that make up more than 50 percent of total system prices. The product will be rolled out in North America through partnerships with home builders [Reuters]. The shingles are the first product to come to market from Dow’s developing line of “Building Integrated Photovoltaic” (BIPV) systems, in which power-generating systems are integrated into traditional housing elements. In 2007, Dow received $20 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to work on BIPV technology.

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Image: flickr / pointnshoot

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Technology
  • Rich Pierson

    This is the technology that the bail outs should be pushing with a goal to convert 50% of the homes in the US to solar, not the car companies and wall street tycoons. Imagine a million homes putting out 2KW each. No more nukes required.

  • nick

    Yes. Yes. YesyesyesyesYES!

  • Jessica

    It’s about time!!!!!

  • colourful_thoughts

    This is awesome!

  • josh

    sure, sounds fantastic! wonderful! but what about a poor schmoe like me who can’t even afford to pay my goddamn $350 a month electric bill? i would convert to solar right now, but there’s that small matter of $27,000. i guess the tax write-off should help with that, huh? maybe with my next paycheck…

  • James

    Hey folks, this isn’t “new” necessarily. Check out , they have created the technology. Soon we’ll be able to “paint” solar panels on everything! Roads, buildings, sidewalks, cars, buses!

  • Your name here

    Whoopidy Doo! Woohoo!! Yipidy Yahoo!! cough..cough, yeah ok.

    Josh~ try closing a window or attending a planned parenthood class.

  • MartyM

    for those who have good credit and can swing the financing of panels, you can earn money from the electric companies and pay off the loan ahead of time. Visit or similar sites for more info.

  • steve

    awesome.. except the evil earth polluter 3rd world populace killer DOW will get the profits.. i can’t wait for some independent briolliant mind to come up with something better. i will buy that instead.

  • LionDancer

    Whilst Nero fiddled as Rome burned; we diddle as the world melts.
    Much too little to do any good, it’s like emptying Lake Erie with a teaspoon. Sorry, Rich, Nukes are the only rational answer.

  • Mike

    Hey LionDancer,
    It takes at least 10 years to build a new nuke plant. Plus millions of dollars…each. How is that an answer? reducing consumption has the most immediate effect. Of course it’ll take more than one simple solution.

  • GW

    I’ve been keeping an eye on this technology for a while and am so happy it’s finally becoming available! When I need a new roof in 10 years or so, there’ll hopefully be more companies making these shingles and the cost will be less. ‘Course don’t know what good they’ll do me in the winter with snow on the roof! (Guess with global warming that may not be a problem…sorry, bad joke)

  • Jerry Arzt

    I recently explored solar shingles for my town house. The cost, before rebates, was WAY more than $27,000. At that price, with the potential of almost 50% back with state (PA) and federal tax credits and rebates, I would have such a roof right now. The more than $80,000 price I was quoted (pre rebate) for a system that wuld have provided over 80% of my electricity meant that it have been long after my death before the system paid fo itself.

    Perhaps with giant companies like DOW becoming involved the cost is about to be cut by 75%. Too late for me.

  • solar training

    they look much nicer than big solar panels

  • Meg

    Hmm…sounds good, but does the $27,000 include the rebates from the electric co. already? And does it include the shingles and installation only, or actually convert the DC from the solar cells to AC and hook you up to the grid? Can’t find that info anywhere yet. I do like the idea of solar paint, siding, asphalt etc. Get me a solar lawn, too, and I’m in! Oh, wait, grass basically *does* use solar power…

  • seth

    This is a nice idea but I doubt it will be cost effective. You will note $ per peak watt figures are not included. Might be useful on some remote off the grid cabin.

    Mass produced nuclear costs are as low as $1000 a kw, a lot less than this home power installation. Nuclear plants can be factory produced and operating in less than 2 years with new technology (Google Hyperion). It can come in packages as small a 75 mw heat / 25 mw enough to power and heat a small town.

    We are a little as ten years away from a civilization destroying climate/peak oil crisis and mickey mousing around with cap n’trade, solar and wind is going to do us all in. A world war scale mass produced conversion from fossil fuels to nuclear power is the only answer. It would be paid for by very quickly ending domestic use of crude oil products.

  • darth dakyne

    @ seth you bring up some pretty good points that we should all look at when we compare the costs of things like this, thanks for commenting.
    BTW i thought that nuclear powered car from THX1138 was pretty damn awesome myself

  • FreeCleanSolar

    $27,000 for a new roof that also produces solar power for your house sounds pretty good. Assuming a traditional new roof cost of $12,000 to $15,000, then the solar power would account for the remainder. Then reduce this cost by as much as 50% with state rebates and federal tax credits. So you’d spend an extra $5,000 for solar. If you save $100 per month in electricity costs, then the payback would be about 5 years.

    To do something about this today, then visit a site like to search a nationwide network of 500 local solar installers. You can also find information about state solar rebates, federal tax credits, solar financing and leasing, system costs and the benefits of going solar. The bottom line is that many homeowners and business owners can afford solar power today.

  • Lisa

    Hello, I installed double insulated windows two years ago because I was told I would get a federal tax credit. When I went to H and R block they told me no tax credit. How do you know that you will get the credit?

  • Sunny Boy

    A white paper published recently by a German solar consortium felt that this (thin film/roof tiles) was likely the shape of the future for consumer solar. The panels will still be more practical for large arrays in commercial and utility applications. As has been said repeatedly, cost and payback period are still out of reach for a really productive home setup. But that, too, is expected to drop precipitously over the next “six months to two years…” Keep watching..!

  • Jay

    Jay says: 11 October 2009

    It would be nice if surplus wind turbine energy produced during the evening low demand period (70%), could be stored, and used for space and water heating during the peak day hours. The solar energy normaly used for the space and water heating during the expensive peak daytime hours could be sold back to the utility at high rates, that additional income used to shorten the payoff period of the solar shingles. This technology is available.

  • Darryl

    As CEO Martin Roscheisen of Nanosolar says. “1 Kilogram of CIGS produces the same amount of energy as 5 Kilograms of Uranium.”

    I’m told by a PV photovoltaics installer friend that a real concern with this idea is having roofers with no knowledge of electricity getting electrocuted during the installation. Unlike AC power, you cannot let go of high voltage DC power and you will fry until someone knocks you off the live wire. I am thinking that can be simply solved by having a paper film covering the CIGS until the whole array is installed then removing the opaque covering when the electrician is on site so no one get electrocuted.

  • Zeek wolfe

    This sounds good and the twenty seven grand is only ten more than I paid for a roofing job about four years ago. There is something wrong with this picture. We’ve heard of marvelous “break throughs” before but something always seems to get in the way. GM’s first electric car is an example. Somewhere, deep down, this is an attempt by one large corporation to extort something from another large corporation, or, eventually, the taxpayers. Eons will pass and roofs world wide will not have this technology because of “unforseen” problems. In 1952 AT&T promised telephone speaker/video technology “in the near future.” We had to wait for the Internet…AT&T still has not produced. Electric roofs will be the same thing. Sorry, this will not happen.

  • Eliza Strickland

    @ Zeek wolfe: I think this is actually quite likely to happen, because Dow thinks it can make a lot of money off these shingles. A spokesman told Reuters: “We’re looking at this one product that could generate $5 billion in revenue by 2015 and $10 billion by 2020.”

  • three

    this can be used on anythin’ but my fav is still wind power as a more efficient way of gettin’ electricity anywhere. the weakness of solor energy is that no matter how sunny your particuallar area is thruout a year there’s such thing as night :)
    at any rate this is a move in the right direction. next thing would be solar sensitive surfaces on entire buildings not just shingles/roof area. solar skin vechiles and clothes…

  • Thinkfree

    This product as with all “green” technologies only makes sense with large govt. subsidies – ie OUR tax money. We all need to stop the “global warming” and “climate change” hype and look for rational solutions to our inevitable need to move away from fossil fuels.

    We need to satisfy our NEED for energy today with cost effective solutions NOW. We don’t need more blue sky “if only everyone would drive less” malarky. We have a large country where people have to drive to work – public transit doesn’t work here ESPECIALLY with it being run and subsidized by the government.

    Private enterprise and capitalism will find a workable solution when there is a true need – “nature abhors a vacuum” ever hear that? That is why America is great. We need to allow the markets to work unfettered by government meddling, protecting us from monopolies and unfair business practices is what the government should do but that’s all.

  • judithanne

    Tax rebates are a directed attempt to push against a powerful market force – only the rich can afford to buy a more expensive option. A carbon tax would gradually make dirty technologies more expensive; finally everybody would find CiGS cheaper.
    I worked for NYTelephone and picturephones weren’t accepted; the average joe looks very poor on ‘tv’ compared to tv actors.
    Public transit needs to be focused to be profitable. If a bus could pick up 1/4 its’ load of people with their Personal Carts (wheelchairs, tricycles, bikes, travelcarts) at one stop, it would make money. Even an efficient van answering computer routings from cellphone calls in a suburb will be expensive.
    Just think how healthy we’d all be if we walked or peddled a mile or so every commute.

  • Robert Naumann

    From the above replies it sounds like some people believe solar shingles will be justified because it will replace the cost of a new roof. One must remember that only a part of the roof will be replaced with solar voltaic shingles. Only the south side will be covered and not the north, east, south or west and the flashings, valleys and ridges must be installed conventionally.The labor and material cost for a roof on new construction is $250 to $300 per 100 sq. ft. A replacement roof is much more.
    Robert Naumann P.E. and builder, Boulder, CO.

  • Disappointed

    To make ANY new product work, it has to be cost efficient in the end, especially those most impacted by energy cost as a percentage of income. This is not it, and until someone comes up with such a product, especially without government paying for it, this is just like the late 70s ideas. Another flatulent release in a hurricane…

  • greg

    I think your all out of your minds paying $27,000 and beyond for a solar system . No i take that back the solar companies are out of there minds charging you all so much . The only reason i say that is because i build my own panels and there so easy to built . I run my entire home on solar power and it only cost me a little over $3000 . These companies are making 20 to 30 thousand dollar profit off all you poor people making you think these things are made of gold . But hey what company doesnt rip you off . Thats america for you land of the brave and home of the greedy .

  • the roof vacuuming guy

    In Australia we have a huge rebate for solar panels right now, the government even pays back money to the home owner every year for unused electricity, this can amount up to $5000 per year for a ten kw system. Makes a huge difference to the affordability of such a huge initial outlay.

  • Pay Per Head

    Price per head and Pay per heads low like never better. Better then the rest. Dont settle for less, get what you need now for your bookies when you need it. Lowest Price Per Head & Pay Per Head!

  • Allwetterreifen



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