Presenters Follow the Sun
June 12, 2009
"'Let the sun do the job' is going to be the theme of this
conference," said Mika Seitovirta, president and chief executive
officer (CEO) of Glaston at a press conference that opened Glass
Performance Days (GPD) this morning in Tampere, Finland. The fact
that the biannual technical conference will focus on the role of
glass in the burgeoning solar market is clear, as each of today's
keynote speakers hail from a company involved in some part of the
solar market. The keynote speakers stressed the importance of driving
down costs and driving up demand for solar panels to keep this market
segment growing around the world.
|In his second GPD, Mika Seitovirta, president
and CEO of Glaston, spoke about the company during an opening
"The glass industry has a challenge as we all do to drive
" commented Avi Brenmiller, president and
CEO of Solel.
Eric Peeters, global executive director of Dow Corning's solar
business, called this the fundamental challenge of photovoltaic
(PV) production: "How many kW hours a panel can make over its
lifetime and how much that will cost." Peeters added, "This
challenge calls for strong collaboration down the value chain."
Each of the speakers seemed confident that glass will remain the
primary material, over competitive products, for encapsulating solar
cells in PV modules. Leon Giesen, CEO of Scheuten, noted that glass
is advantageous for this application in that it's strong, durable
and is able to "play" with light. "The more light
you get through it the more effective it is." He also noted,
"The disadvantage is the weight - it's too heavy."
Giesen added that glass is the natural choice for solar applications
as, "Solar in the long run will be a building integrated product,
a building-related product," adding that glass is already an
inherent part of buildings.
Brenmiller added, "We will have to do some [further] sophisticated
processing of the glass that is used in buildings and automotive
[applications] to turn it into an optical device." As far as
further improving the use of glass in solar applications, Giesen
suggested bringing together the fabrication of solar glass with
the fabrication of the cells themselves, and in that way reducing
the costs of the process.
|Leon Giesen, CEO of Scheuten, encouraged the
architects at GPD to start planning on how they can bring solar
into their projects.
The speakers also stressed that solar is just beginning to grow.
According to Brenmiller, "A wave of technological innovation
will lead concentrating solar power (CSP) to grid parity in the
"By 2012 we will be very close to grid parity or already there
in many countries," said Peeters of solar energy.
Dr. Johannes Segner, chief operating officer of Solibro GmbH, noted
that the global demand for glass in solar applications is now about
50 million square meters, but by 2012 is expected to be closer to
130-140 million square meters.
To meet this demand, several of the speakers at the opening ceremony
encouraged devoting whole float lines to solar glass in the future.
"It's actually a challenge for suppliers to produce these
materials fast enough," Peeters said of all of the raw materials
used to produce these large panels.
Giesen said that five or six float lines would need to be dedicated
to solar glass production by 2012. Segner estimated 20 complete
float lines dedicated to solar glass by 2015.
To further encourage this growth, the speakers began encouraging
building designers in the crowd to keep energy generation in mind
for future buildings. During his talk, Giesen addressed the architects
sitting in the crowd (for the first time as GPD now includes an
architect's forum), "to the architects it's necessary that
solar is on your drawing boards
we have to start planning
for it today."
More than 800 attendees have gathered for this year's event, which
continues through Monday. Stay tuned to USGNN.com for further
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