Robert is a staff writer for the Sustainable Development category of Justmeans, and a long-time business consultant and author with a knack for writing about difficult topics in a friendly, down-to-earth style. He has been a senior consultant for Hill and Knowlton Public Relations, editor of monthly newsletters on finance, investing, and management, a book publisher, and founder of two non-prof...
First UL Certified Solar Shingle Helps Environmental Conservation
The Dow Chemical Company, not always the environment's best friend, has taken a step toward environmental conservation by getting its Powerhouse brand solar shingles certified for safety by the Underwriter's Laboratory.
The new Powerhouse Solar Shingle boasts an integrated connection system that allows its photovoltaic solar cells to be quickly and easily installed, just like and/or in combination with standard asphalt shingles. This is, in part, because the new solar shingle design eliminates any on-roof wiring, minimizes the need to drill through the roof, and generally installs in much the same way as conventional roofs.
Dow Solar Vice President, Jane Palmieri, said happily: "This [certification] is another important milestone towards the planned 2011 commercialization of Dow's solar shingles, and represents a crucial third-party validation of the safety of this product. We are dedicated to making solar easy for homeowners, builders, and roofing contractors ...."
To achieve the certification, Dow Solar worked closely with UL to indentify tests that would assess the safety of the solar shingles as a combined solar and roofing product. UL eventually granted certification that represents compliance with a many of UL's safety and building standards (specifically including: UL 746, 1703, 1897, 790, 486 and 514). More than 50 tests were conducted to assess the safety of the solar shingles, as well as their compliance with building code standards that cover wind and fire resistance, plus the relevant electrical code requirements.
In separate tests, Dow is currently assessing the reliability and durability of both individual solar shingles and complete roof-wide installations, evaluating how well the shingles stand up to weather, extreme temperatures and other "in the field" performance factors.
The Dow solar shingles utilize thin-film Copper Indium Gallium deSelenide for the photovoltaic material. They are currently being manufactured for Dow Solar by Global Solar Energy, a Tucson, AZ company that currently delivers the best balance between low cost shingles and high sunlight conversion efficiency.
Residential solar systems are normally more complex, less affordable, and to some eyes less attractive than conventional roofing systems. So Dow Solar is hoping its new Powerhouse Solar Shingle will provide the missing link that allows the energy industry to drive increased solar adoption by U.S. homeowners, providing safe and reliable solar power directly to individual American households.
While many people credit "private enterprise" with the ingenuity and drive to develop solar shingles, the fact is that Dow received a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2007, as part of the federal government's Solar America Initiative, to develop new forms of "building integrated" solar arrays for residential and commercial applications. Dow's new Solar Shingle is the first product to come out of that grant program.
More later ...
Photo credit: Dow Solar