The plant extension at Covilis (Portugal) will enable the Group to supply the Iberian Peninsula’s thermo-solar market with parabolic cylindrical mirrors.
This roughly €20 million capital expenditure project is fully in line with the Group’s solar strategy and will extend the current buildings (designed to produce extra-clear SGG ALBARINO patterned glass for photovoltaic panels)over a 12,000 m² surface area. With its 19,000 m², the Covilis site will become the largest parabolic cylindrical mirrors plant in the world with annual production capacity corresponding to the supply of mirrors for 250 MW solar fields (five 50 MW fields). The plant will employ around 110 people.
The Covilis site was chosen for this major investment on account of the plant’s expertise as a manufacturer of specialized products for the photovoltaic and solar market. In addition, the Portuguese capital’s neighboring port provides maritime access to a number of export markets. With the first contracts already signed totaling tens of millions of euros, shipments will begin in the first half of 2009.
Saint-Gobain and the growth of solar business
Already the leading supplier of high-energy transmitting glass for traditional photovoltaic cells using crystalline silicon, Saint-Gobain is developing a complete product offering. This includes conductivecoated glass for new generation thin-film photovoltaic cells, solar-cells supplied through its joint subsidiary with Shell, flat and now curved mirrors for solar concentrators.
Saint-Gobain has developed curved mirrors for solar concentrators, a product which is particularly weather-resistant and provides installations with excellent long-term performance. Solar concentrators equipped with curved mirrors are very competitive compared with other solar-based energy-producing solutions. Business is expected to grow strongly, especially in southern Europe, the southern United States and in the Middle East.
The Flat Glass sector of Saint-Gobain, the European leader and number two worldwide, manufactures, processes and sells glass products for two main markets: building and transport. In 2007, it reported net sales of €5.6 billion.
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