Powerhouse 3.0 Solar Shingles Head To The Roof

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The snail-slow solar shingle race is moving once again, as Real Goods Solar accepts the first of its $127 million worth of Powerhouse preorders on December 27. The company also announced plans to ramp up production every quarter during 2019 toward a 5 megawatt annual capacity guarantee from its manufacturing partners. The announcement coincides with Tesla plans to ramp up its solar shingle production next year as well. May the best shingle prevail.

Real Goods Solar (RGS) acquired its shingle technology from Dow Chemical after the giant had spent close to six years trying unsuccessfully to commercialize its design. A general consensus on the failure was that the system cost too much, and Dow was not advertising the cost. Last year, RGS paid Dow $1 million for an international license for the tech, and will pay another $2 million soon, now that the RGS shingle has gained UL certification.

The Powerhouse solar shingle has 12 patents and more than 25 patents pending its technology, RGS says. The patents cover Australia, Canada, China, European Patent Office, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

RGS has reworked the solar cell chemistry from the original Dow system, replacing the Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) cells with Half Cut Mono-PERC Silicon. While the earlier cells produced 32-40 Watts per cell, the new chemistry yields 55 to 60 Watts per cell, RGS claims. As a result, the per-Watt cost of the system has been lowered, the company says.

RGS now claims that its system will cost $4.14 per Watt installed, versus the $8.14 that it says the Tesla solar panel will cost, in a November 18 presentation. “The company anticipates the revenue from an average Powerhouse kit sold to a roofer, including shingles, inverter, monitoring, non-electrical balance of system components and freight charges to be $19,000,” RGS said in its September 30 10Q report.

NASDAQ-traded RGS has been issuing shares and raising capital for the last year, and now should have close to $20 million to finance a manufacturing roll-out if all its outstanding warrants are exercised, the company said in the 10Q.

Part of the lower cost for the Powerhouse 3.0 will come from a new manufacturing partner in China, Risen Energy. The company’s products are exported to more than 30 countries and regions such as Europe, America, South Africa, and Southeast Asia, it says.

“We are now fulfilling purchase orders from RGS to enable them to meet their customer demand,” said Bypina Veerraju Chaudary, Risen Energy’s chief sales and marketing officer. “We have begun manufacturing solar components and wire harness connectors for Powerhouse and expect to increase our production schedule in the coming months,” he said in a December 11 statement.

In April, RGS announced that General Polymers Thermoplastic Materials, a thermoplastic resin distributor serving custom injection molders in North America, will supply the polypropylene plastic resin for the base assembly of Powerhouse 3.0. The plastic is expected to maintain the durability and toughness of the original version resin while increasing manufacturing efficiency and reducing the overall cost of raw materials, RGS said.

At the same time, RGS announced that Creative Liquid Coatings will supply all Powerhouse 3.0 molded polymer components fully assembled, with all solar components, wire harnesses, and other parts required to deliver a finished product to RGS Energy customers.

Dow has reportedly installed its Powerhouse on about 1,000 homes in the United States. RGS is working to sell its V3.0 to roofers and homebuilders. “With a typical asphalt roof lasting 20 to 25 years, RGS estimates that annually there are approximately 5 million homes needing new roofs in the United States. Approximately 80 percent of homes in the U.S. are asphalt roofs,” the company said last year.

The RGS license is international, and the company also expects non-US sales to take off next year. “Outside of the U.S., the exclusive license allows RGS to market the product internationally. According to BBC Research, the global market for BIPV will grow at a 12.2% CAGR from $2.5 billion in 2016 to $4.3 billion by 2021,” RGS stated last year.

The Powerhouse 3.0 is expected to come with a 11-year product warranty, which is “the standard product warranty of most traditional solar panels today, and a 24-year power production warranty,” RGS said. RGS provides the warranty on all earlier Dow era installs. The shingle is built to withstand winds from 110 to 200 mph.

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Charles W. Thurston

Charles specializes in renewable energy, from finance to technological processes. Among key areas of focus are bifacial panels and solar tracking. He has been active in the industry for over 25 years, living and working in locations ranging from Brazil to Papua New Guinea.

Charles W. Thurston has 78 posts and counting. See all posts by Charles W. Thurston