A separate section on China's solar glass market has been provided that discusses production capacity and market players. Major drivers and challenges are also covered in detail in the report. The competitive aspects of the market are also highlighted and key players namely Xinyi Solar, Asahi Glass, NSG Group and Saint Gobain are profiled with their main business strategies.
Solar or photovoltaic glass is generally used to cover the front sheet of solar modules to protect the solar cells. It minimizes light reflection and absorption thereby allowing more sunlight to pass through the protective glass to the solar cells. The demand for solar glass has grown at a remarkable pace over the past few years. Factors driving this demand include recovery in global economies and Government subsidies provided to encourage solar power generation.
Although the percentage share of solar glass out of total flat glass produced globally is very minimal, its share is estimated to increase, driven by rising solar panel installations.
China has the largest manufacturing base for solar modules in the world. In 2012, the solar glass production capacity in China accounted for 90% of the global solar glass production capacity. As of 30th June 2013, there were 58 solar glass manufacturers in China of which 38 produced ultra-clear photovoltaic raw glass. Xinyi Solar (XYS) is a leading global solar glass manufacturer in China and currently operates 4 ultra-clear PV raw glass production lines with an aggregate daily production capacity of 2,000 tons.
Factors like the steady demand growth of photovoltaic modules especially in emerging markets like China, Japan and India, growing environmental concerns and rising feed-in-tariffs will drive the solar glass market in the future. Initially the industry was dominated by leading glass manufacturers like Asahi Glass, Saint-Gobain, and PPG, but at present many new players have entered the market that solely produce solar glass.