Solar, Utility Integration

Dow Invests US $50M in BIPV

A critical piece of equipment arrived at Dow Chemical Company’s Michigan Operations Manufacturing Site in Midland, Michigan last month. The equipment, a 1,350-ton tandem clamp injection molding machine, is part of a US $50 million investment by Dow that could enable solar energy materials to be incorporated directly into the design of commercial and residential building materials more easily.

Dow is developing Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) solar energy technology, which serve both as the outer protective surface of the building and to generate power. These new products and technologies could enable solar energy generation materials to be incorporated directly into the design of commercial and residential building materials, such as roofing systems, exterior sidings and fascias and more.

Construction is underway on a market development plant and R&D facility at the site that will create 22 new jobs for highly skilled individuals. Up to 80 construction personnel have been on site daily since the project began last December.

“Dow’s innovative technology is based on a much more cost-effective photovoltaic material, called CIGS, and these cells are ‘packaged’ within the roofing product creating a ‘solar shingle’,” said Bob Cleereman, Dow’s senior technical director of building integrated photovoltaic technology. “This approach enables lower fabrication and installation costs, because both the conventional and solar roofing shingles are installed at the same time. The result for the home or building owner is that solar-generated electricity costs no more than power generated by burning green house gas-creating fossil fuels.”