Volume 43, Issue 8 - August 2008

SolarWatch

Solutia Establishes New Photovoltaic Business for Thin-film Solar Panels

St. Louis-based Solutia Inc. has established a Saflex® photovoltaic business to serve the rapidly growing market for thin-film solar panels.

“As energy demand and public policy drive the rapid adoption of renewable energy, the global market for thin-film solar panels is growing at a rate of 40 percent per year,” says Jeffry N. Quinn, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Solutia. “Our Saflex business is the world’s leading producer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) interlayer, which is emerging as the encapsulant of choice in the thin-film solar panel market. Within the next 7 to 10 years, our Saflex business expects to build photovoltaic into a third major market, which will be comparable in size to its traditional architectural and automotive markets.”

These investments span sites in Belgium, China, Mexico and the United States, significantly increasing capacity for Saflex PVB interlayer as well as Butvar® PVB resin (the key raw material used to make Saflex PVB interlayer).

“While the world market for PVB is tight, we expect to sell an increasing amount of Saflex PVB interlayer to photovoltaic customers,” says Luc De Temmerman, senior vice president of Solutia Inc. and president of Saflex. “Importantly, we will continue to invest in PVB capacity and technology to meet the growing demands of our current and future customers across the architectural, automotive and photovoltaic markets.” www.saflex.com

Arch Aluminum
Adds Solar Division

Arch Aluminum & Glass Co. Inc. in Tamarac, Fla., has added a new SOLAR COMMAND™ manufacturing and fabrication division. Using internally developed, patent pending technology, the company is now making several products for the growing solar industry, including material for various photovoltaic and solar transmission systems.

“We’ve created a tremendous system that has allowed our solar customers the ability to get their products faster and more plentiful than ever before,” says director of solar operations Tony Lawson. “Our set-up allows companies both in North America and globally the abilities and options that used to be incredibly difficult.”

Aside from fabricating the products for the various solar systems, Arch is also offering the ability to manufacture production lines for the solar community.

“The growth of solar technology has been tremendous, but there’s a notable shortage in the ability to not only fabricate the material but have the lines to manufacture. With our program customers all over the world will have options and resources like never before,” Lawson says. www.archaluminum.net

Architectural Glass & Aluminum
Partners with Solar Film Producer

HelioVolt Corp., a producer of highly-efficient thin film solar energy products in Austin, Texas, and Architectural Glass & Aluminum Co. (AGA) in Irvine, Calif., have formed a partnership to develop and manufacture building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) products. The joint offering will incorporate high-quality solar energy systems directly into standardized curtainwall products. By embedding PV thin film into building materials, the solar-enabled curtainwalls are designed to improve aesthetics, simplify installation and reduce operating costs for solar energy in new construction.

“Driven by the inherent value of being able to generate clean electricity at the same place it’s being consumed, the market for distributed solar energy is developing at breakneck speed,” says HelioVolt chief executive officer (CEO) Dr. BJ Stanbery. “In addition to offering advances over the typical solar panel products that dominate the market today, HelioVolt’s manufacturing process enables next generation smart building materials capable of powering cities of the future.”

“AGA has a 40-year history of delivering specialized curtainwall products and services to our customers throughout the Western United States. This new solar-enabled product line will add value and innovation to our already trusted offering,” says Joe Brescia, CEO of AGA. “HelioVolt’s unique manufacturing process and quality of the resulting CIGS thin film make the company a valued partner as we move into a new category of BIPV products.” www.aga-ca.com

USG
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