Volume 43, Issue 11 - November 2008

Solar Watch

Arch Aluminum & Glass Improves Solar Mirrors for Renewable Energy Industry

Arch Aluminum and Glass Co. Inc. in Tamarac, Fla., has developed a new mirror manufacturing technique that it says will meet the demand for low-cost and efficient concentrator photovoltaic units in the burgeoning renewable energy industry.

Arch’s parabolic mirrors optically focus sunlight onto a concentrator containing active solar cell materials that convert the intense light into electricity. The paint backing for these techniques are lead-free, which allows the company to mass-produce environmentally friendly mirrors capable of withstanding high temperatures. 

“Coatings applied to parabolic-shaped glass in a high-volume, high-production manner has never been done before,” says Tony Lawson, director of solar operations. The new process for silvering and coating bent glass was developed by the company’s new Solar Command division (see August 2008 USGlass, page 26). 

Arch plans to sell the solar mirrors directly to manufacturers of solar power generation equipment from its production line in Fort Pierce, Fla. The company also is looking to create a partnership with developers of solar power in the production of mirrors for concentrator photovoltaic units as well as solar tower systems, heliostats, solar troughs and Stirling dish systems

Taiwan Glass Industrial Invests in Solar Cell Production

Taiwan Glass Industrial (TGI) will put an additional $62.7 million USD into its production of glass products for the solar cell industry, according to an article in DIGITIMES. The investment will occur over three years in its plant in Changpin Industrial Park in Taiwan. According to the report, TGI will produce “super white photovoltaic glass” and transparent conductive oxide-based glass substrate for thin-film solar cells, as well as glass fibers for windmill generators.

FLABEG Starts Construction on Its First 
U.S. Solar Mirror Plant 

Flabeg, a manufacturer of solar mirrors, technical glass and automotive mirrors, headquartered in Germany, has begun construction on a new 209,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Pittsburgh that will produce high-precision parabolic mirrors used to generate electricity at large-scale solar power plants. Funding of the $30 million project will be assisted by a $9 million grant from Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. The company expects to generate as many as 300 jobs in the facility. 

Production is expected to begin by October 2009, and first deliveries are scheduled for November 2009. The factory will have a capacity of up to 1 million parabolic curved mirrors annually, and already has seen orders for 700,000 mirrors.

Permasteelisa and ERG Renew Co-Research Solar Power 

Permasteelisa Group and ERG Renew, both headquartered in Italy, will enter into the next-generation photovoltaic panels sector through their participation in a research and development technological project for the production of non-silicon based solar panels. The objective is to develop over the next four years so-called “organic” photovoltaic cells and to start-up an industrial production line of dye sensitized solar cells (DSSC) panels. This technology utilizes light-sensitive organic pigments and nanotechnology to generate electricity. In contrast to traditional models, the new panels will use simpler production processes that utilize less energy, having a reduced environmental impact and lower costs; in addition they are more versatile as they are less sensitive to the angle of solar radiation, which allows them to be installed on vertical walls (for example glass skyscrapers and towers) or in places with indirect sunlight. They are transparent and may utilize different colors, thus improving on the architectural integration of silicon.

The Universities of Rome Tor Vergata, Ferrara and Turin will be research partners in the project. The Australian company Dyesol also will be involved, through its subsidiary Dyesol Italia. The total investment of the project is more than $14 million USD (10 million EUR).

On completion of the research, ERG Renew and Permasteelisa will commence, exclusively, the production and marketing of these next-generation panels.

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