Back in 2007, Dow Chemical (NYSE:DOW) won a $20 million grant from the Department of Energy to research and develop building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) products. The fruits of that government-sponsored labor are Dow's Powerhouse Solar Shingle, which the company is bringing to market in partnership with solar-cell shop Global Solar Energy and homebuilders Lennar (NYSE:LEN) and Pulte Homes.

Other firms active in BIPV include Suntech Power (NYSE:STP), Energy Conversion Devices (NASDAQ:ENER), and Ascent Solar (NASDAQ:ASTI), which is a bit further behind Global Solar in the commercialization of thin-film copper-indium-gallium-diselenide (CIGS) solar cells on a flexible substrate. Compared to the headline-grabbing utility-scale projects of First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR), BrightSource Energy, and others, BIPV hasn't given investors much to get fired up about lately.

Dow may aim to change that. The company projects $5 billion in revenue by 2015, and $10 billion to $11 billion by 2020. That's just for the Powerhouse shingle, ostensibly the first of more BIPV products to come. This is much more ambitious than DuPont's (NYSE:DD) target of $1 billion for its own solar-related revenue, and it would move the needle even for a company the size of Dow Chemical.

The key source of Dow's enthusiasm appears to be its claim that the shingle will be 30%-40% cheaper than current BIPV solutions, and 10%-15% below the per-watt installed cost of conventional rooftop panels. Of course, with the solar industry in such a fluid state, that latter comparison could shift dramatically, depending on relative technology advances, not to mention panel supply and demand imbalances.

We'll have to see how the trial installations go in 2010 before getting too excited -- or worried, for those investing in competitors like ECD -- about these new solar shingles.

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Fool contributor Toby Shute doesn't have a position in any company mentioned. Check out his CAPS profile or follow his articles using Twitter or RSS. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.