Asahi Glass infusing P500M for panel facility

Japanese-owned Asahi Glass Philippines Inc., a unit of Tokyo-based Asahi Glass Co. Ltd., is spending close to P500 million to put up a state-of-the-art glass production facility for solar panel applications that would complement the operations of the proposed $320-million wafer fabrication plant of SunPower Philippines Manufacturing Ltd.

Asahi Glass president Renato Ermita said in a letter to Board of Investments (BOI) managing head Gregory Domingo that the proposed project would be a pioneer in the country and would involve the production of low-iron, high transmittance, tempered glass for solar panel applications.

Ermita said the additional investments would be used to redesign its existing furnaces, install new auxiliary facilities, as well as additional equipment for processing.

Asahi Glass, the world’s largest producer of flat glass, has so far infused P3.8 billion in the Philippines but has decided to close its production line for tempered automotive glass in the country because of low capacity utilization and soft demand.

Ermita said the proposed facility would generate $6 million in export earnings of the first year of operations that would grow to $10 million after a few years.

The proposed project inside the company’s manufacturing complex in Pasig City would be implemented on a phase by phase basis starting next July with the furnace modification followed by the installation of auxiliary facilities and the processing equipment.

The Asahi Glass executive said the proposed factory would produce and supply cover glass for solar modules to be used by SunPower in its planned facility.

“We will touch base with SunPower and express our desire to collaborate with them in making the Philippines a major manufacturing hub for solar modules and develop downstream market for solar based technologies,” Ermita told Domingo.

SunPower Philippines, a unit of California-based Cypress Semiconductor Corp., has picked the Philippines over India as the site of its proposed wafer fabrication facility for solar cells inside the Ayala-controlled Laguna Technopark.

However, SunPower has raised the absence of locality manufactured glass that could raise its operating costs, as it would have to import the raw materials.

The plant is expected to yield $247 million in export earnings by 2007. It also intends to see a portion of the plant’s output to local companies for the development of solar energy in the Philippines.

The US-based parent company of SunPower through Cypress Manufacturing Ltd. has an existing manufacturing facility at the Gateway Business Park special ecozone in Cavite Cypress Semiconductor has a 57- percent stake in SunPower.

600450 Asahi Glass infusing P500M for panel facility

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