Companies Come to Adapt to Solar Production
As Professor Stefan Behling with the University of Stuttgart, and
organizer of the glass technology live exhibit, said during the
glasstec opening session on Tuesday, solar glass production is "an
integral part of the glass industry." It certainly seems to
be that way at this year's glasstec.
As an attendee of solar conferences, Behling said, he's found that
the solar module producers don't have a "full grasp" on
producing these energy-generating systems and it's the glass industry
that has "the know-how to make the machines," and is ultimately
tied to the installation of these products.
Behling also noted that solar technologies have been a part of
glasstec for a number of years, although not in such force as this
year. While some exhibitors admitted to working on solar production
equipment for a number of years, it has only become a trend in the
months since glasstec 2006.
For example, Benteler has been working on solar-related products
for the last year and a half, according to one company representative,
so its technology was new for this year's glasstec. It's one of
several companies adapting automotive glass equipment to take on
grinding, handling and other functions for the sizes most common
for solar panels.
Of course, those sizes may not be typical for long. Applied Materials
hosts in its booth a 5.7 square meter panel-the size panel that
can be produced by its now SunFab solar module production
line for fabricating thin film silicon photovoltaic modules. A benefit
of the large lite, according to one sales representative with the
company, is that the glass installer only has to work with one junction
box and fewer wires than if he were installing a number of "traditionally"
sized PV panels in the same space.
Saflex is another company offering new solar solutions in large
sizes; the company launched its photovoltaic business in June 2008
and provides PVB encapsulant technologies for thin film modules
as large as 5.7 square meters. As was noted during the company's
press conference, Germany is a suitable place for presenting new
solar technologies as it's one of the largest users of PV.
"In Germany there's more than a million homes already with
the photovoltaics on their rooftop," commented Joris Stoefs,
director of commercial operations for Europe, the Americas and Afrida.
Christopher Reed, global photovoltaic business director, noted
that Germany and Spain are the biggest markets in this area due
to government subsidies. He added that while solar energy has exploded
worldwide as a topic, he expects growth in Asia to soon overtake
even the use of solar energy in Europe.
HERE for solar-related video footage.
The show continues through Saturday. Stay tuned to USGNN.com
for more video footage and stories from the show floor.
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