Introducing: DOW’s ‘Powerhouse’ Solar Shingles

DOW is not usually a name that comes up when discussing sustainability and clean technology.

That may change now that the company has start selling and installing their first rooftop solar shingles.  This modular PV system, dubbed ‘Powerhouse’ (oh, I get it) doesn’t just mount on your roof, it IS your roof.  These individual units overlap just like asphalt shingles and string together in a circuit, giving you much more flexibility in fitting your roof’s shape and size.

RX-Dow_Powerhouse-Solar-Shingles_s4x3_lg[1]

What are the pros of a system like this?

-They are flush with the rest of your roof

One of the main complaints about roof mounted PV systems is that they literally stand out, detracting from the architectural aesthetic of a home

-No mounting brackets

The singles attach with nails, just like normal roofing shingles.  Also, no mounting brackets means less equipment to buy!

-Modular

You can install as many or as few as you like, or your budget will allow

Potential cons:

-No adjusting the angle

Solar installers typically put panels in at the optimum angle for electricity production, which varies by location.  This angle doesn’t always match your roof, so there could be decreased efficiency, especially on steep roofs

-Solar panels are less effective when hot

DOW may have a way of addressing this, but without air moving over AND under the panels, they might heat up more, making them less efficient.

 

Dow-Powerhouse-Solar-Shingle-Front-Forbes[1] Solar shingle[1]

I wasn’t able to find any pricing information per shingle, but here is a good infographic from DOW explain the total costs of ownership:

DD-Roofing-Colorado_V23-1024x791[1]

More info:

http://www.dowpowerhouse.com/

http://www.forbes.com/pictures/eiie45gfjl/madrigals-home-2/

 

The State of the Solar Industry

The Solar Energy Industries Association has released their Q2 report, and the news is sunny! (oooh, sorry ’bout that.  The pun was too tempting)

The highlights: 832 Megawatts of new solar installed in the second quarter of 2013, the second best quarter for solar, ever.

This brings the US total to 9,400 Megawatts of solar electricity, on pace to reach 10,000MW (10GW) by the end of the year.

To put that in layman’s terms, that’s enough to power 1.5 MILLION homes.  To put it another way, it’s like removing 1.9 Million cars from the road.

Powering 1.5 Million homes, or taking 1.9 Million cars off the road.  With that comparison, we can deduce that ‘going solar’ has a BIGGER environmental impact than buying an electric car, way bigger than buying a hybrid!

Click on SEIA’s infographic for more from their Q2 report:

SMI-Q2-2013-Infographic[1]

Source: SEIA.org

Why the U.S. Power Grid’s Days Are Numbered – Businessweek

Here’s a recent article from business week proclaiming that the days of the centralized regulated power grid are numbered.  We all know that monopolies are prohibited in the United States, except for areas such as utilities.  Now, as more people combat pollution and rising fuel prices with home-grown solar and geothermal power generation, there is a small yet growing challenge for the monolithic utilities.

feature_nrg35__01__630x420

Sound far fetched to you?  Read the article to see why some industry experts think it is coming sooner than you think!

Why the U.S. Power Grid’s Days Are Numbered – Businessweek.

Answer to the Nuclear Argument…

Here’s a quote from sustainability leader William McDonough that is the best response to nuclear energy proponents that I’ve ever heard:


“Don’t get me wrong: I love nuclear energy! It’s just that I prefer fusion to fission. And it just so happens that there’s an enormous fusion reactor safely banked a few million miles from us. It delivers more than we could ever use in just about 8 minutes. And it’s wireless!”

William McDonough, Fortune Brainstorm Conference, 2006

290px-The_Sun_by_the_Atmospheric_Imaging_Assembly_of_NASA's_Solar_Dynamics_Observatory_-_20100819

Which Countries have the highest per capita Energy consumption?

Quick post today: In keeping with the global energy use/production theme, here is a list of the countries that have the highest energy use per capita:

Country Name Electricity consumption per capita (kWh per person) Year of Estimate
Iceland 52,621 2012
Norway 24,558 2012
Kuwait 16,090 2012
Canada 16,020 2012
Finland 15,788 2012
Sweden 14,510 2012
United Arab Emirates 13,281 2012
Luxembourg 12,676 2012
United States 11,920 2012
Australia 10,238 2012

So what exactly does this list tell us?  Maybe not much.  We see a lot of countries in very cold and very hot climates appear high on the list.  This makes sense, because they will use more energy for heating and cooling.  Also, energy producers tend to be higher on the list, since they have cheaper fuel available.  Of course, more developed countries are higher on the list as well.

It is interesting however, to see this consumption per capita, because we often forget smaller countries in discussions about global consumption.  The US and China are always mentioned as the biggest energy gluttons in the world (because as countries they consume the largest amounts of energy), but the US barely cracks the top ten in per person use, and China is even further down the list (#73).  It’s a different perspective.  China is the biggest energy consumer, but because of their massive population, they aren’t using that much for each citizen.

In case you are curious, here is a per capita energy comparison for larger counties:

energy-per-capita

Sources:

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.USE.PCAP.KG.OE

http://www.economicshelp.org/blog/5988/economics/list-of-countries-energy-use-per-capita/

http://www.indexmundi.com/g/r.aspx?v=81000&t=10

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2233rank.html

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2240rank.html