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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Dow Chemical plans to sell solar shingles by 2011 - Florida AP - MiamiHerald.com

Dow Chemical Co. says it aims to start selling power-generating roof shingles by 2011.

The Midland-based chemical giant has been at work for the past year on a $50 million project called Dow Solar Solutions.

The company's scientists and engineers are working to develop a product to sell thermoplastic solar roof shingles throughout North America.

Dow Chemical is collaborating with three home builders - Lennar Corp. of Miami, Pulte Homes Inc. of Bloomfield Hills and Prost Builders Inc. of Jefferson City, Mo. - and with Tucson, Ariz.-based Global Solar Energy Inc., a maker of flexible materials.

The researchers have conducted numerous tests in preparing the shingles for market, said Robert J. Cleereman, senior director of solar development for Dow Chemical.

"We've thrown everything you can imagine at them from (simulated) hail to fire to see how they react," he told The Saginaw News. "One day, a person would no more think about buying a house without solar shingles than they would buy a house without plumbing. That is our hope, at least."

At the center of the project is a $2.5 million injecting and molding machine nicknamed "The Beast" that produces the solar cell-imbedded shingles.

The marketing for solar shingles will be shaped by government subsidies and utility policies, Cleereman said.

"I can see utility companies paying for the roofing for customers," he said. "It would save them money on building power plants because the solar shingles can act like individual little power plants."


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