Through its La Veneciana de Saint-Gobain subsidiary, the Flat Glass Sector of Saint-Gobain has decided to extend its presence in the solar mirrors market. A plant extension at Covilis in Portugal will enable the Group to supply the Iberian Peninsula’s thermo-solar market with parabolic cylindrical mirrors. This roughly €20 million (about $32 million) capital expenditure project is in line with the Group’s solar strategy and will extend the current buildings (designed to produce extra-clear SGG ALBARINO patterned glass for photovoltaic panels) over a 12,000 square meter surface area.
With its 19,000 square meters, the Covilis site will reportedly become the largest parabolic cylindrical mirrors plant in the world, providing annual production capacity corresponding to the supply of mirrors for 250 MW solar fields (five 50 MW fields). The plant will employ around 110 people.
The Covilis site was chosen for this major investment because of the plant’s expertise as a manufacturer of specialized products for the photovoltaic and solar market. In addition, the Portuguese capital’s neighboring port provides maritime access to a number of export markets. With the first contracts already signed, it is expected that shipments will begin in the first half of 2009.
A leading supplier of high-energy transmitting glass for traditional photovoltaic cells using crystalline silicon, Saint-Gobain is developing a complete product offering that includes conductive-coated glass for new-generation thin film photovoltaic cells, solar cells supplied through its joint subsidiary with Shell, and flat and curved mirrors for solar concentrators. Saint-Gobain has developed curved mirrors for solar concentrators, a product that is particularly weather-resistant and provides installations with excellent long-term performance. Solar concentrators equipped with curved mirrors are very competitive compared with other solar-based energy-producing solutions. Business is expected to grow strongly, especially in southern Europe, the southern U.S. and the Middle East.
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