Five years after Dow Chemical promised to change the way people thought of solar shingles, it sold the last of its manufacturing equipment to an unknown buyer.
The online auction house Hilco Global announced the equipment, including plastic-injection molding machines, solar-cell welding systems, glass washers, sun simulators, laminators — among other equipment — had been sold. Neither the buyer or the financial terms of the sale were disclosed.
Long before Tesla/SolarCity announced its new solar-roof products last month, Dow launched its PowerHouse Solar Shingles in 2009, designed to integrate directly into the roof. By 2011, the company’s “groundbreaking” product was struggling to survive. This summer, with the product no longer viable and a pending merger with DuPont looming, Dow decided to stop making the PowerHouse entirely.
On the lonely remnant of what was once a vibrant PowerHouse solar shingle website is now the following note:
Dow announced on June 28, 2016, that it will cease manufacturing POWERHOUSE modules. As part of the transition to cease POWERHOUSE operations, we will no longer be providing design services for new projects. Dow will continue to support warranties issued on existing POWERHOUSE Systems.
The timing of the final sale is ironic, given the hoopla surrounding Tesla’s solar-roofing products, which are expected to into mass production next summer. Roof-integrated solar has been a goal for at least the last seven years, and no one has been able to move the needle enough to make it the centerpiece of its business.
As Julian Spector at GTM Research wrote this summer when Dow originally announced it would no longer manufacture the PowerHouse shingles:
Once the conventional PV sites are tapped out — if that ever happens — the value of solar-generating windows, walls and roads will increase. Until then, BIPV frequently amounts to paying a premium for less of a return. That math has already killed a long line of companies.
Elon Musk is now betting Tesla/SolarCity’s future that he can buck the trend Dow’s PowerHouse solar shingles pioneered. As Dow’s solar shingles business gasps its last breath, the industry awaits to see if Musk’s intuition is correct.
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BIPV isn’t failing because of a lack of job sites – it’s failing because solar has not bridged the general labor gap due to subsidy-driven economics.
When your labor force is comprised of installers who know very little about roofing, how can the product be integrated into the roof?
Products exist for flashing, taping, gluing and sealing skylights, windows, air condition hatches, and kinds of rectangles to our rooftops. What the solar industry lacks are general contractors who know how to properly flash and seal roofing systems. Instead, we have installers who know a little electrical and not alot of roofing whom target going after the low hanging fruit, driven by a subsidy business model that shortcuts traditional design-bid-build construction processes. If our past decade of “NABCEP”-driven subsidies had instead targeted roofing contractors with 10+ years roofing experience, and if our “green collar job” education grants had targeted architects/engineers instead of community college students, we’d have general contractors building true solar rooftops by now.
Instead, our protectionist solar import tariffs stifle innovation, while shoveling subsidy dollars over to the utilities who attack distributed solar, while stoking a political climate which has put Rick Perry as the head of the DoE.
John, you make some excellent points. Our team is planning to support the proper installation of Aesthetics Solar Roofing (ASR).
Cost effective, scalability is critical to the adoption and success of new solar roofing.
Proper training of installers and a global infrastructure of independent contractors is the key . We plan to support them with equity crowdfunding.
Keep in touch @stevenpaulcote
John, you know well about this product.
Ocean View, Delaware I have a home that … desperately needs a new roof and I do not want to get the normal shingles if I can get a Solar Shingles that it is awesome to hear that exsist .. with the right co. to install it.
Do you know any Co. in that area .. zip code 19970 and my cell is 703-624-0027
As a homeowner interested in an architecturally acceptable (shingles vs panel) solution to PV generation, I remain confused by “plummeting cost” in solar equipment production and my inability to find distributors and installers in the Midwest. There are plenty of panel installers emerging, but my house is a perfect south facing ranch in need of a new roof, and I don’t want to buy a new roof, then overlay a panel system. Any ideas and advice are welcome.
we are a Lebanese company working in brick and construction materials and I saw your company portfolio and we are interesting in your product.
so please we would like from you to contact us via email: email@example.com
we are waiting your replay as soon as possible.
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