The Minister visited the newly opened facility to learn how the NSG Group – manufacturer of Pilkington glass in the UK – is pioneering advanced methods of making energy-efficient glass. The coater, located at the company’s Cowley Hill site in St Helens, is one of the most advanced facilities of its type in the world.It enables ultra-thin special coatings to be applied to glass, creating a range of high-performance energy-saving architectural glass products. Having started production in November 2012, the line is now fully operational and currently producing Pilkington K Glass™ S glass – the company’s latest cutting edge energy-efficient product – at a rate equivalent to 4 million m2 per year.
Construction of the facility was supported by a £5 million grant from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, allowing the creation of 50 new, full-time skilled jobs on site. Highly efficient electric glass transporters and sensor-controlled lighting, along with high quality water recycling and treatment processes, all help minimise the carbon footprint of the glass being produced.
The design of the coating line means that a wide range of products can be manufactured for use both in the UK and for export. Production of the Pilkington Optitherm™ low-emissivity and the Pilkington Suncool™ solar control ranges will commence shortly with development of new products in progress supported by the NSG Group Technical Centre in Lathom, near Ormskirk.
The visit also provided the opportunity for company representatives to discuss the Government’s recently launched Green Deal initiative. The inclusion of energy-efficient glazing as a measure for improving household energy saving has been well received and the company is a keen supporter. However a number of recommendations were presented which could help to strengthen the scheme for the benefit of the window industry as a whole.
The Minister explained: “We have a huge number of home-grown energy efficiency pioneers here in the UK and Pilkington is one of those brands. Energy efficient glazing has an important role to play in helping reduce energy bills going forward and the Green Deal will allow people to upgrade their homes with new glazing and pay for some or all of the work done through savings on their bill. So it’s great to know that a significant volume of the glass required to make our homes and buildings warmer and more efficient can be made here in the North West.”
Gary Charlton, Operations Director, explained: “The new coater is undoubtedly a significant investment and one that the company and the wider St Helens community can certainly be proud of. The Minister’s visit to the facility brings home its significance.”
“Set against the background of a challenging construction market, it enables the company to enhance our competitiveness by offering the latest high performance energy-efficient products. This will go a long way towards securing the future of both St. Helens and the Pilkington brand as names that remain synonymous with UK glazing and innovation in energy efficiency for years to come.”