In October 2009, the chemical giant unveiled its product, which can
be nailed to a roof like ordinary shingles by roofers without the help
of specially trained solar installers or electricians. The solar
shingles will cost 30 to 40 percent less than other solar-embedded
building materials and 10 percent less than the combined costs of
conventional roofing materials and rack-mounted solar panels, according
to company officials.
Dow isn't the first company to incorporate solar cells into building
materials. In recent years, a number of leading solar manufacturers
have launched small lines of solar shingles, tiles, and window glazes.
But as Dow looks to bring its shingles mainstream, other solar
manufacturers are backing away from the products. Suntech Power,
the Chinese solar maker, and the largest crystalline silicon
photovoltaic manufacturer in the world, has several integrated solar
systems on the market, but with the recent downturn in new housing
construction, the company has focused instead on ramping up
conventional photovoltaic panel output, says Jeffrey Shubert, Suntech
Power marketing director for North and South America.
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