The DOW Chemical Company has recently received the “Environmental Excellence in Emerging Technology” award from the GLOBE Foundation for its 2009 development of the “POWERHOUSE Solar Shingles”. The shingles, designed using an alternative photovoltaic cell technology other than purified silicon, look and act like standard asphalt shingles used in homes except for one small difference – they generate electricity. Utilizing wireless plug-style connectors the shingles easily and effortlessly transfer converted energy back into an energy network that can easily be installed into homes and used to offset standard energy usage.

Originally unveiled in 2009 by DOW the POWERHOUSE shingle was named one of the top 50 inventions of 2009 by Time magazine, with DOW beginning to utilize the eco-friendly shingle in its own establishments at that time.

Based on consumer reports most state that the POWERHOUSE shingle will become commercially available for consumers starting in 2011 and should be available at reasonable prices, much more affordable than conventional solar panel installments. The reason for the cheaper cost lies primarily in materials – by utilizing a CIGS (Copper Indium Gallium deSelenide) base photovoltaic converter rather than the industry-standard purified silicon DOW is able to remove the primary cost-factor in the solar cell production process. This means that the shingles can be manufactured at a fraction of the cost of alternative solar cells, though unfortunately they are not as efficient at energy conversion as the silicon-based counterparts.

Still, a minor energy conversion loss is a small price to pay for most home owners looking to maximize their energy efficiency. This is especially the case as the shingles are designed to be aesthetically pleasing as well as effective home protection, allowing for a much more attractive option than a major solar panel installation that can take up the majority of a home’s roof.

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