A solar energy initiative led by Dow Building Solutions has been selected as a recipient of the $20 million Solar America Initiative Pathways Program by the U.S. Department of Energy.

As part of the cost-shared agreements, the industry-led teams will contribute more than 50 percent of the funding for these projects for a total value of up to $357 million over three years. These cooperative agreements are the first funding awards made available as part of President Bush's Solar America Initiative (SAI), a component of his Advanced Energy Initiative, announced in his 2006 State of the Union Address, and intended to make solar energy cost competitive by 2015.

Dow Building Solutions is a business unit of the Dow Chemical Company.

The Dow Building Solutions' project is built on Dow Chemical's extensive materials; engineering; and design and fabrication technology; and will enable solar energy generation materials to be incorporated directly into the design of commercial and residential building materials, such as roofing systems, exterior sidings and fascias, and more.

"Dow brings expertise with inventing new materials and processes to create value for our customers," said Dr. William F. Banholzer, corporate vice president and chief technology officer, The Dow Chemical Company. "For example, in the automotive industry we've helped replace dozens of parts once individually installed, into one integrated assembly – not only saving money, but increasing reliability and safety. We intend to apply the same innovation in materials and processes to create building-integrated products that will dramatically reduce the cost of solar energy."

The Dow project will further research and development efforts to build integrated photovoltaics, or BIPVs. BIPV products and technologies allow solar energy generation materials to be incorporated directly into the design of commercial and residential building materials, such as roofing systems, exterior sidings and fascias, and more. BIPVs eliminate the traditional trade-offs of solar cells because they serve both as the outer protective surface of the building and generate power.

"We are pleased to be selected for this partner funding," said Kostas Katsoglou, business president, Dow Building Solutions. "As energy costs continue to rise, it is evident more must be done to develop technology offerings around renewable energy generation. This infusion of capital into our solar R&D program will enable our world class material scientists and design engineers to design, develop and scale-up integrated PV product systems and manufacturing."

The teams selected for negotiation have formed Technology Pathway Partnerships (TPP), which include companies, laboratories, universities, and non-profit organizations to accelerate the drive towards commercialization of U.S.-produced solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. These partnerships are comprised of more than 50 companies, 14 universities, 3 non-profit organizations, and 2 national laboratories. DOE funding is expected to begin in 2007, with $51.6 million going to the TPPs.

In addition, the projects announced will enable the projected expansion of the annual U.S. manufacturing capacity of PV systems from 240 megawatts in 2005 to as much as 2,850 MW by 2010, representing more than a ten-fold increase. Such capacity would also put the U.S. industry on track to reduce the cost of electricity produced by PV from current levels of $0.18 to $0.23 per kWh to $0.05 to $0.10 per kWh by 2015 – a price that is competitive in markets nationwide.