Nippon Sheet Glass, Asahi Glass increase capacity for solar cell glass

Nippon Sheet Glass and Asahi Glass each plan to increase output capacity of glass panels for thin-film solar cells in response to continuing strong demand for these panels, which have escapted the slo…

Nippon Sheet Glass and Asahi Glass each plan to increase output capacity of glass panels for thin-film solar cells in response to continuing strong demand for these panels, which have escapted the slowdown affecting construction and automobile glass. Nippon Sheet Glass will invest a total of EUR 50 million, or about JPY 6.4 billion, to modify existing construction glass processing factories in the UK and the US and produce glass panels for thin-film solar cells. The investment will double the firm“s annual production capacity for such panels, with each facility becoming capable of producing 60,000 tons a year. The UK production is to begin as early as February 2009, while production in the US facility will likely start in 2010 or later. Asahi Glass has invested an estimated JPY 2 billion to set up a processing facility for thin-film solar cell glass panels at an existing factory in Belgium. The firm“s fourth such facility, after those in Thailand and Japan, is currently conducting test runs, with the aim of moving into full-scale production by the end of 2009. Thin-film solar cells are cheaper to manufacture than the conventional variety because they use less silicon. Expectations are growing that thin-film cells will become one of the mainstream solar cells in the future thanks to the lower production cost.