Monday, October 19, 2009

Dow Launches Solar Shingles & Nanosolar Vets Efficiency

More than anything else, Dow has understood that a mass market exists for the production of millions of such shingles, and this is their way of making sure that they are a big part of the market. They look good and likely work fine. They are not yet likely to be cheap, but then neither is anyone else.

The point is that Dow can respond to the market and given the opportunity can make the market. After all, the folks at Nanosolar are promising to print miles of PV skin at a cost of less than $1.00 per watt. If I were Nanosolar, I would be ecstatic to land Dow as a customer. They simply have the horsepower to place those shingles on every shelf next quarter and keep them there while folks get used to the idea.

In fact, with this entry, the whole issue of marketing changes for the better.

We also need to stop talking about top efficiencies. Their declaration that efficiency will exceed 10% is as good as it will get for a long time. All the higher ratings do not exceed 15% in perfect conditions and are somewhat misleading. As high as 30% plus has been achieved in the lab in highly artificial conditions and are irrelevant for the present.

In the meantime we have this pertinent announcement from Nanosolar of the efficiency of their printed cells which makes it all very clear and sets the standard.

Both these companies, either apart or as allies, are now entering the mass market. Your next roof will be in the form of attractive solar shingles.

The technology for integrating all this is presently a work in progress, but everybody can now see for themselves the out come. The home or any building will become a source of energy. That alone changes the national energy equation. Conversion will not be quick, but this tells us that Dow believes that cheap is possible.

With the home acting as a source of energy then home storage and energy management become inevitable and desirable. It you can store energy, you need to top off from the grid during the off peak periods and during rare shortfalls.

On a personal note, I was introduced to lab work supporting printed solar cells several years ago and immediately saw the potential for shingles. It is good to see something so obvious been so vigorously implemented. I am even more pleased to see the excellent efficiency profile for printed cells. That was the nagging question.

Dow Unveils Impressive New Powerhouse Solar Shingle (with Photos)

Written by Preston Koerner October 6, 2009

Yesterday, Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW) unveiled its new line of DOW POWERHOUSE Solar Shingle. The Solar Shingle was designed to be integrated into rooftops with standard asphalt shingle materials. Dow expects the shingle systems to be available in limited quantities by mid-2010 and more widely available in 2011. And although the company says the system will provide a low-cost solar option for homeowners, we have not received any specific pricing details at this time (see below).

The POWERHOUSE Solar Shingle is made with CIGS photovoltaic cells in a proprietary shingle design. Roofing contractors won't need any particular knowledge of solar array installations, and installations should be quick because conventional roofing shingles and Solar Shingles can be applied at the same time.

Jane Palmieri, Managing Director of Dow Solar Solutions, described the benefits of the integrated system as follows: "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."

In conjunction with the announcement, Reuters reported that the CIGS cells used by Dow "operate at higher than 10 percent efficiency, below the efficiencies for the top polysilicon cells -- but would cost 10 to 15 percent less on a per watt basis." This, in turn, should make the Solar Shingle about 30-40% cheaper than other BIPV systems.

Photo credits: Dow Chemical Company.

NREL Certifies 16.4% Nanosolar Foil Efficiency

By Martin Roscheisen, CEO - September 9, 2009

It was May 2006 when we last released information about our power-conversion efficiencies to the public (for a cell sample on glass actually back then). We have made a lot of progress since then; so an update is appropriate.

Our lab and production teams have managed to make more progress on efficiency than we had planned on in any of our business plans. Recall that we print CIGS onto inexpensive metal foil, that is, something that some have been skeptical can work while others have been wondering whether it can deliver efficient cells.

So we are pleased to announce that our low-cost printed-CIGS-on-metal-foil cell stack and process produces quite efficient cells: Earlier this year, NREL independently verified several of our cell foils to be as efficient as 16.4%.

At 16.4% efficiency, our foil cells represent two world records in one: It's the most efficient printed solar cell of any kind (all semiconductor and device technologies) as well as the most efficient cell on a truly low-cost metal foil (with a material cost of only a cent or two per square foot and mil thickness).

In terms of our current baseline production process, our best production rolls now achieve higher than 11% median efficiency measured as equivalent to panel efficiency, with very tight cross- and down-web uniformity.

A comprehensive description of our cell technology platform as well as NREL's efficiency certifications can be found in our cell technology white paper.


crippled soccer ref said...

From what I understand DOW is not using NanoSolar material. There are many interesting solar companies and DOW is working with a particular supplier in Arizona!! You better bet the scientists @ DOW are working with the most promising CIGS material available and the most promising CIGS company. Again from what I understand the company they are working with has been around from over 10 years and has many flexible products on the market as we speak.
You should have taken the time to do some research and see what the product will really be before you publish something like this.

arclein said...

it is presently clear that Dow is not working yet with Nanosolar, but that is likely only a matter of time.

The driving factor is cost and Nanosolar is claiming the $1.00 per watt bench mark.

Far more important today is that Nanosolar has finally clarified the question of efficiency. The result is both unexpected and excellent.

Unless someone has lost their minds these two companies will surely lead the sudden expansion of installed solar energy. that is why I posted both items.

They are both in contention to create a huge mass market.

crippled soccer ref said...

By mid-2010 look for at least 3 more players to enter the commercial production of BIPV products.

Global Solar Energy, SoloPower, Accent.... there are more....

NanoSolar may appear to have a good cost ratio but when viewing their technology, of printing, it is just not as stable as what some of the other companies are doing. Understanding of more then just Eff% and total Power(watts) is needed to confirm that overtime their product meets the claimed nameplate value. CIGS has this major disadvantage- no one knows how stable it will be in 20-30 years!!!

BIPV will be available in many different applications very soon!

And we will see that END OF LIFE issues will arise due to the use of very TOXIC chemicals to create the CIGS layer and subsequent layers. Private Americans companies are working very hard to ensure that we consumers get a good looking product that meets the claimed value along with EOL recycling options.

arclein said...

I agree that the other nagging question is stability over a twenty tear life span. no one believes that it will be easy.

Strangely enough, we must view this as all early days.

Reaching a $1.00 per watt benchmark begins the difficult engineering development process that deals with maximizing lifespan and recycling.

If they have to be ripped down every five years at first, then there will be plenty of pressure to improve lifespans.

What is so important is that a range of product is available today for such development.