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Solar Shingles Showdown – Dow Chemicals bolsters product line with Startup Acquisition

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Dow Chemicals buy Nuvosun

Materials giant Dow Chemicals has bought the entire equity stake in CIGs solar startup Nuvosun to bolster its solar shingles line up. Note Dow has made huge plans for its solar shingles product line, though the company has not managed to actualize those plans till date. The company has only now increased the distribution of this product in the US despite announcing the product almost 3-4 years ago. These solar shingles are different from the conventional solar panels which are mounted on roofs. These replace the shingles which make up the roof and don’t have to be mounted on racks. These solar shingles use the thin film solar technology which is more amenable to flexibility as well.

Nuvosun was founded in 2008 and had received an initial investment from Dow Chemicals. Note thin film solar startups are finding it hard to grow and survive on their own. Nuvosun’s founder had started Miasole earlier. Miasole which was the best positioned CIGs solar startup was forced to sell itself for a huge discount to Asian giant Hanergy. Other solar thin film companies have also either sold themselves or gone bankrupt (Solyndra, Sulfurcell etc.). It made sense for Nuvosun to sell itself given that the capital requirements are beyond its capacity.

It remains to be seen how Dow Chemicals is able to leverage this buy. While there has been strong customer interest in this product, Dow has not ramped up production and distribution. Competing with ultra low cost crystalline solar panels is not easy for any solar technology (CPV, CSP etc.). Dow really needs to get its act together otherwise its solar shingle will be another failed footnote in the solar industry history.

Read more about Solar Shingles Pricing, Cost, Manufacturers.

Dow Chemical said Thursday it has bought solar startup NuvoSun, which developed a thin film technology that Dow will use for its solar roof.Dow, which made equity investments in NuvoSun over a 3-year period, closed the purchase of the startup on Feb. 28, said Dow spokeswoman Kate Nigro. She declined to disclose the purchase price. Greentech Media first reported the acquisition on Wednesday.The looks of the solar shingles may also be a selling point. Conventional solar panels require racks to prop them up, and the color of the solar cells is usually different than the color of the roof.

Founded in 2008, NuvoSun’s technology uses copper, indium, gallium and selenium to convert sunlight into electricity. The compound and the manufacturing process involved make it possible to create ultra thin and flexible solar cells. Silicon solar cells are thicker and prone to breakage if they are not protected by glass. NuvoSun’s founder, Dave Pearce, told me in early 2012 that his California company was gearing up to ship its cells to Dow. Pearce started another solar company before NuvoSun, and that company, MiaSole, has since been sold to China-based Hanergy.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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