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Opportunities grow for glass in the solar industry

Post Time:Nov 12,2013Classify:Industry NewsView:47

The photovoltaic industry is expected to see annual growth between 40 percent and 50 percent during the next several years. Glass manufacturers and processors will be required to serve a critical role in the developing industry, said Timothy McKittrick, a scientist for Pilkington North America in Toledo, Ohio. He spoke in June during the Glass Performance Days conference last month in Tampere, Finland. “For many PV applications, glass is a preferred material, because it has good mechanical strength, is resistant to long-term weathering and is relatively inexpensive,” McKittrick said. “The recent growth in the PV industry presents significant growth opportunities for various glass products.” One of these products includes glass coated with transparent conductive oxides. TCOs form a transparent layer that acts as a bridge from the semiconductor material to the external electrical circuit. The technology is used in two of three methods of thin-film solar technology, McKittrick said. “The thin film solar market is predicted to grow six-fold over the next five years,” McKittrick said. “There is significant pressure to supply large volumes of high quality TCO with a range of properties suitable to meet the differing requirements that thin film solar cell manufacturers demand.” Glass companies also are being asked to supply even higher transmitting products, said Hansjorg Weis, department manager for Interpane of Germany. Weis also spoke during GPD. Interpane developed a high-transmission, anti-reflective glass coating that allows for increases in light and solar energy transmission, and decreases in light reflection, Weis said. “As much energy radiation from the sun as possible should reach the solar thermal collector,” Weiss said. “The solar energy transmission through the glass cover plate should be as large as possible. The task of improved transmission can be achieved by antireflective coatings.” Traditional low-iron glass transmits 91 percent of light and 89 percent of solar energy. When applied with an antireflective coating, the glass transmits about 97 percent of light and 94 percent of solar energy, he said. In addition to providing more transmittance, the glass industry is becoming more involved in developing solar protection devices within glazing systems, said Andreas Gombert, director for materials research at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy in Germany during his GPD presentation. Switchable glazing and micro-structured sun protection systems help control intense light and solar heat infiltration into buildings. Switchable glazing technologies include electrochromic devices that switch from a transparent to a tinted state; photoelectrochromic devices that combine an electrochromic layer with a solar cell; and switchable mirrors that reverse from clear to reflective, Gombert said. “Switchable coatings would enlarge the functionality of architectural glass significantly,” Gombert said. “The variable radiation at the building envelopes could be controlled much more precisely and without disadvantageous effects on the visual comfort of the building users.” Another developing solar protection technology includes micro-structured and coated devices that feature a film of micro prisms. The prisms, invisible to the eye, would deflect direct sunlight while allowing light from other angles, Gombert said. Read abstracts about these presentations and others at GPD here. To order the full conference program with all papers, click here.Share this article:

Source: http://www.glassmagazine.com/news-item/commercial/opportunities-grow-glass-solar-industryAuthor:

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