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.