Glass companies expand solar businesses in 2009

By Katy Devlin
October 27, 2009
COMMERCIAL, FABRICATION : GREEN, MEETINGS AND EVENTS, SOLAR

Many glass companies have taken time during the recession to invest in their solar businesses, building new facilities and adding lines, company representatives said during Solar Power International, Oct. 27-29 in Anaheim, Calif.

Cardinal Solar Technologies, a business of Cardinal Glass Industries, Eden Prairie, Minn., started working in solar technology two years ago, said Andy Jensen, vice president, general manager, Cardinal Solar Technologies. The business produces the top low-iron glass for PV modules, as well as the tempered back glass that has to be tempered in the company’s high-speed gas convection ovens. The division opened a facility in Mazomanie, Wis., last month that will grind, drill and temper two types of glass for use in PV.

This month, 3M's Renewable Energy Division, St. Paul, Minn., completed the capacity expansion of its manufacturing facility in Singapore for solar films, tapes and adhesives, said John Price, marketing communications supervisor, 3M Renewable Energy Division. “We built the facility to meet demand,” Price said. “The market warrants it.”

In January, Saint-Gobain, France, opened a new headquarter office for its Solar Glass N.A. division in Scottsdale, Ariz. “There were several factors that went into our decision to create the office in Scottsdale,” said Norman Chavka, director of business development, Saint-Gobain Solar Glass N.A. “First, the close proximity to customers. There is a good portion of the market in the Southwest and West. Second, we have some plans to industrialize down the road.”

In May, Schott Solar opened a solar products manufacturing facility in Albuquerque, N.M., creating 350 green jobs. Brian Lynch, head of business development on the East Coast for Schott, said the facility allows access to some of the stimulus money. “We qualify for numerous incentives because we’re located in the United States. It’s really helped us differentiate Schott from other players in the market,” he said.

XYG Glass, Richmond, British Columbia, a division of Xinyi Glass Holdings Ltd., China, added two new production lines in 2009, including one line in its new plant in Wuhu, China, said William Lo, business development manager. “Both of the lines, one a low-iron float line, and the other a pattern low-iron line, will be in operation by the end of 2009,” Lo said.