Surging global interest in solar power as a source of green electricity could become the most significant source of growth for leading glass manufacturers, the former chief executive of Pilkington has revealed.Stuart Chambers, who led the UK-based glassmaker through its acquisition by Nippon Sheet Glass last June, described the market for photovoltaic panels as "possibly the most exciting growth opportunity" for the industry.
Asahi Glass, Japan's largest manufacturer, recently said it planned to focus on glass for solar cells as its current growth driver - glass for flat-panel LCD television screens - was already coming under heavy price pressure. Within the past two months, the former Pilkington opened a facility in Germany to meet demand from solar manufacturers there and elsewhere in Europe and, said Mr Chambers - its capacity is already sold-out.
Now a director on the board of NSG with responsibility for the old Pilkington operations, Mr Chambers added that the Japanese company would, by the end of 2007, be producing glass for use as covers for crystalline silicon solar cells at a new $42m facility in China. The plant will meet rising demand from solar panel makers in China and across other parts of Asia.
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