In Midland, Michigan, construction crews are preparing to deliver what may very well be the future of clean energy: solar shingles.
Dow Chemical Co., perhaps the biggest leader in solar shingles manufacturing, is building a new facility for production of the Dow Powerhouse Solar Shingles, with which they hope to capture a $5 billion market share by 2015.
I’ve had a love affair with solar shingles since they first hit the market in 2005. They’re able to solve many of the problems that plague solar as an industry, like the common (albeit misguided) complaint that solar panels are an eyesore.
The shingles, which have about 12 by 86 inches of surface area, can be integrated seamlessly into your rooftop.
What’s more, they shield the home. They offer the protective properties of normal shingles while generating clean energy at the same time. Similar in hue to traditional asphalt shingles, solar shingles blend in surprisingly well with deep, dark-colored roofing materials.
Installation costs are usually cheaper as well, since solar shingles can be stapled directly to your roofing cloth and installed by a regular roofer in 10 hours (versus 22-30 hours for a solar panel array). For more on solar costs in your area, click here.
Until now, the solar shingle trend has been in its infancy. But Dow hopes to change all that.
Powerhouse Solar Shingles are already being featured on two Great Lakes Bay homes in Michigan. Mark Wahl, co-owner of Cobblestone Homes and builder of one of the show-houses above, foresees an explosion in solar shingle popularity.
“[The solar shingles] have been hooked up by our builders and electricians on two homes now, and for Dow to take that to a mass market is really big,” Wahl told MLive.com.
“Our company deals with solar panels, but we have to bring in an installation firm. Because builders can install these shingles, Dow will be able to easily sell them across America,” he said.
The plant will begin production in 2012 and employ 1,275 people. Aside from boosting production and putting the locals to work, Dow seeks to make Michigan a “green-tech hub of the new U.S. economy,” said Earl Shipp, VP of Dow’s Michigan operations.
In addition, Dow has a soft launch of their solar shingles scheduled for the first quarter of this year, which should bring the products substantial exposure.
If this trend picks up, not only would more homeowners be able to afford solar, but solar contractors and roofers alike could expand their offerings.
What do you think? Would you install solar shingles on your roof?
Let us know in the comments! Photo via MLive.com