GPD 2011: energy efficiency, energy from deserts and the energy to transform

At Glass Performance Days (GPD) 2011, organized for the 12th time in Tampere, Finland, a host of renowned speakers opened the event for 850 guests from over 60 countries by challenging upcoming issues…

At Glass Performance Days (GPD) 2011, organized for the 12th time in Tampere, Finland, a host of renowned speakers opened the event for 850 guests from over 60 countries by challenging upcoming issues in the glass industry from a solar, industrial and political point of view. All speakers shared the same vision: a transformation is coming. Energy is key. Now it is time to build for greater energy efficiency, explore new solar possibilities and more forward with the confidence that the glass industry holds the power of transformation and responsibility. With forecasts showing that the world will consume up to 60% more energy within the next 20 years, it is imperative to find smart, efficient and sustainable ways to meet those needs. Buildings consume 40% of the world“s energy and account for 20% of all CO2. The glass industry has an important role to play as a game changer. The outlook for the future is brighter, began ArtoMetsnen, CEO of Glaston Corporation at the Opening Ceremony. Together, the glass industry can work towards more energy efficient solutions through networking and collaboration. GPD with its theme of Glass and Solar in Sustainable Development brings the world“s glass professionals together to share experiences. Performance is the focus, said Jorma Vitkala, Chairman of the Organizing Committee GPD. Performance is vital to encourage energy efficiency and climate-friendly opportunities. Keynote Speaker Bruce J. Oreck, US Ambassador to Finland, called the audience to action. He drew on the success of Abraham Lincoln, who boldly led his nation through a transformation. Disenthrall, he challenged. This means to give up, release yourself. We need to give up our beliefs of the past and rise to the occasion. This is a transformation; not a change. And we need to change our relationship with energy. He sees his role as Ambassador to include being an advocate for green energy and sustainability. All US Embassy buildings throughout the world are currently being revamped to be showcases of energy efficiency. They now include roof wind turbines, better insulation, new LED lights and especially performance films on windows, enabling them to play an efficient role rather than simply being replaced. We need to think of glass in terms of energy. We need to look at every building as an entire integrative system and not simply parts. Everything“s about to change And we hold the power of transformation and the responsibility. The second speaker, Ralf Christian, CEO Power Distribution Division, Siemens AG, Energy Sector, continued with the theme of transformation and the role of glass in solar photovoltiacs. In the coming years, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar will play an increasingly important role in the energy mix. Every day, the Earth“s deserts receive as much energy from the sun in six hours as mankind consumes in one year, he said. In his presentation of smart grids and the Desertec project, he said that transmitting this electrical power, which is often generated far from consumption centres to where it is needed, requires low-loss power highways of up to 2,000 km. This is the prerequisite for implementing Desertec“s vision of electrical power from the desert“. The glass industry would benefit immensely from investments in power plants and power transmission technology of Desertec. Siemens, which supplies solar-thermal power generation and turnkey power plants, estimates a demand of 190 tons of glass per megawatt of solar-thermal capacity. A 500-megawatt solar-thermal power plant therefore would require approximately 95,000 tons of glass. Russell J. Ebeid, President of the Guardian Glass Group, continued to speak about the glass industry taking a lead during this difficult period. It“s no time for the timid, he challenged. This industry will see a quantum change over the next 10 years. The shift will be towards the consumer who will take control over buying decisions. This is a huge difference from the days when glassmakers were the heavy force, ruling the market with commodity products they wanted to produce. He continues that Guardian Glass has made a change in the way they see themselves: We are no longer a glass company. We are an energy company. He challenged the entire glass industry to think more about being an energy industry and make products that consumers want and ones that really have an impact on their lives and future sustainability. For the first time, a special GPD Architectural Competition Award was arranged, and the winner is ALA Architects of Helsinki, Finland. Their entry best fulfilled best the criteria for high-quality, innovativeness, functionality, use of glass for energy-efficiency and sustainability. The aim of this competition is to support the knowledge of Tampere“s glass cluster. This competition will be arranged annually; every second year for professionals, every other for students.