Along with wind, solar power is the most wanted form of alternative energy, because it generally causes no environmental damage, is easy to install and there is still much to discover in this area. Putting solar on an empty field has been done before, and so has putting solar panels on the rooftop, but they ruin the aesthetics of the home.
Dow Chemical, a leading U.S. chemical manufacturer, has profiled on the solar panel industry lately. Moreover, they began to produce solar shingles that are to be more efficient and easy to install. They even say an electrician is only required in the last phase of the installation, when they all get connected into the grid system.
Dow’s initiative has been backed up with a $17.8 million tax credit from the DOE, with the promise that they will launch a market test later this year. Their solar shingles are projected to cost 30 to 40 percent less than the competition’s, since they’re not alone in making them. The wonder-shingles even compete with the traditional ways of getting solar energy, being 10 percent cheaper than conventional roofing materials and rack-mounted solar cells. Or, at least, company officials say so.
These solar panels are built in partnership with solar cell manufacturer Global Solar Energy, who makes copper, indium, gallium and selenium (CIGS) thin films. They are less price-prohibitive than classic crystalline silicon solar panels and have higher conversion efficiencies – the highest of the thin film family. Their weak spot, though, is that they’re sensitive to moisture, and this requires Dow to install glass protection onto them, reducing the desired flexibility.
Technology is evolving rapidly in this field, and in several years we may see solar panels everywhere a new house is built – and we may not even notice that there a home is solar-powered, if it will be built with the proper materials. How much ’till then? 10, 20 years? Or less?