Photovoltaic (PV) low iron glass represents 3% of world glass production. Markets for low iron glass at $1.5 billion in 2010 are expected to reach $3.8 billion by 2017. Growth is expected to achieve marked improvements in these ratios with low iron glass coming in at 15% of total glass production in 2020, i.e. the same level as automotive glass.
Low iron glass is used by the solar industry. Low iron glass market growth is tied to solar market growth. Glass vendors are emerging as experienced and innovative partners for solar plant operators. Float glass plants are designed for PV glass for thin film and solar panels. Vendors are emerging that are dedicated to the production of PV thin film glass.
Low iron solar glass technology gives solar panel and solar concentrator vendors the ability to build more efficient systems. Improved cost structures of the solar industry depend in part on improved efficiencies in low iron glass manufacturing.
Government subsidies are, above all, the key growth factor driving demand in the solar market. Although there is local variation, in the aggregate, subsidies are expected to continue and increase. There is not a more useful way for a government to spend its tax dollars than to stimulate growth of relatively inexpensive local sources of energy.
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