APLA '10: US Dow solar shingles overcome odd, varied obstacles

08 November 2010 20:44  [Source: ICIS news]

RIO DE JANEIRO (ICIS)--Dow Chemical's new POWERHOUSE solar shingles illustrate the several - and often disparate - obstacles new technology must overcome before they can hit markets, a company executive said on Monday.

The shingles are essentially solar modules that can be nailed to the rooftop of a house.

However, shingles have to integrate with the electrical grid, said Theresa Kotanchek, global director of sustainable technologies and innovative sourcing for Dow.

She was speaking on sidelines of the Latin American Petrochemical Association (APLA) annual meeting.

The US electrical grid was developed to accommodate plants that generate consistent quantities of power, such as coal-powered plants, Kotanchek said.

By nature, solar power is intermittent, she said.

Also, the shingles’ design needed to match the rigours of home builders, who will be nailing the product on the tops of roofs.

Photovoltaics in themselves have provided Dow with opportunities, the company said.

The company's electronics business had been involved with silicon for years, but from the semiconductor side, Kotanchek said. Dow took that knowledge and applied it to photovoltaics, she added.

To that end, Dow recently developed a polyolefin-based encapsulate - one that could compete with the dominant material, ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA).

New materials could also replace some of the expensive rare earths used in photovoltaics, she said.

For more on Dow Chemical visit ICIS company intelligence
Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives in Green Chemicals

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By: Al Greenwood
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