Making Roofs Climate Friendly with Solar Shingles
Rooftop solar installations of photo voltaic (PV) panels have been around for many years. These installations sit on top of the roof of a building and generate electricity whenever the sun shines. The electricity can be used to power appliances in the home or delivered to the power grid to be sold to the power company (this is called 'net metering'). Many millions of square meters of PV installations exist throughout the world on rooftops everywhere.
The recent introduction of DOW PowerhouseTM solar shingle systems revolutionizes this technology - the solar shingles are the roof and a solar energy generator, all at the same time! There is no need for frames or racks to support the panels.
These solar shingles are lightweight and easy to install. Normally a south facing slope of the roof should be selected for the shingles to enhance the efficiency of energy generation. The solar shingles are esthetically appealing because they look much like asphalt shingles. They protect the home just like conventional shingles, too, according to DOW. At the moment the solar shingles may cost more than a conventional rooftop PV array.
The new solar shingle roofing system includes a custom-designed array, based on the location and pitch of the roof. Also included is an inverter that converts direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC), so that the electric power can be used in the home or possibly sold to the power company. As with conventional PV panels, installation must be done by properly trained workers so any risk of damage from installation of the wiring is minimized.
We visited a housing development on Denver's far west side to check out these solar shingle roofs. The solar area of the roof blended in nicely with the rest of the roof creating an appealing look.
Some homes in the same development had conventional rooftop solar systems so it was easy to compare.
The unfortunate side of this development, in our view, was that it is totally car dependent exurban sprawl. The large homes are garage door dominated with sprinklered lawns. There is little community here - not even a recreation center, pool, school or library. No shops are within walking or even biking distance. Transit will never come here.
The solar shingles do offer a small offset for the massive carbon footprint of these otherwise fairly conventional homes. We trust that there will be installations of DOW PowerhouseTM solar shingles on homes in more People and Climate Friendly developments.
To read more about this new and innovative roofing alternative, click here (opens in a new window).
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