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Solar Energy: Inauguration Of the Covilis Plant

Post Time:Jul 15,2009Classify:Company NewsView:514

On July 10, 2009, Chief Executive Officer Pierre-André de Chalendar inaugurated in the presence of José Socrates, Portugal's Prime Minister and Fernando Texeira dos Santos, Minister of Economy and Innovation, Saint-Gobain’s first and largest production unit for parabolic cylindrical mirrors used in solar power plants.
Until now, the Covilis facility has focused on manufacturing SGG Albarino extra-clear glass for use in photovoltaic (PV) panels. The Group invested more than €20 million to add a 12,000 square-meter extension for producing parabolic cylindrical mirrors.
Covilis now boasts the Group's first large parabolic cylindrical mirror line, with an annual production capacity of more than 2 million square meters. This is enough to supply five 50-MW solar parks a year-equivalent to the annual consumption of a city of 150,000-and avoid up to 149,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions that would come from a conventional coal-fired power plant. This new line makes Covilis the world's largest parabolic cylindrical mirror plant, supplying Southern Europe, the United States, the Middle East, Australia and other regions.
With this brand new facility at the leading edge of the world's best available technologies, Saint-Gobain intends to speed its growth in renewable energies and advance its strategy of deploying across the solar value chain and technology base, including photovoltaic panels, solar concentrators and solar heating systems.
The parabolic solar concentrator market enjoys vibrant demand, thanks to tax incentives and institutional support. According to certain estimates*, installed capacity worldwide could reach 50GW by 2020. Saint-Gobain is aiming to serve nearly 30% of the solar concentrator market by 2010.
Mirrors for solar parks
The high-performance parabolic cylindrical mirrors produced at Covilis are made from SGG Diamant Solar tempered glass, an extra-clear glass with a low iron oxide content and a high level of light transmittance developed specifically for the solar energy market. High technology was required to address the significant constraints involved, as the mirrors must withstand harsh weather conditions and offer a virtually perfect uniform curve for optimal reflection. To achieve this result, Saint-Gobain leveraged glass forming expertise gained from its work with the automobile industry and silvering techniques from traditional mirror manufacturing. It also launched a specific R&D program to obtain the desired curve and a high-quality reflective coating that can withstand changing temperatures and abrasion for several years.  
How a solar park works
Solar power plants use high-temperature steam to generate electricity. Unlike conventional power plants, which use polluting fossil fuels to produce the steam that turns the turbines, solar plants use never-ending energy from the sun.
Solar concentrators with curved mirrors are very competitive compared with other solar power generation solutions. Demand for concentrators is expected to expand massively, notably in Southern Europe, the United States and the Middle East.
Installed in parallel rows, the parabolic cylindrical mirrors look like huge radar dishes, turning on a horizontal axis to follow the sun.
Covilis facts and figures
Year built: 1998
Number of employees: 120
Total floor space: 19,000 square meters
Production: One line to produce parabolic cylindrical mirrors for the solar power market.
One line to produce tempered glass for photovoltaic panels.
Annual capacity: 2.3 million sq. m of mirrors.
More than one million sq. m of tempered glass for photovoltaic panels.
Investment to expand the plant: More than €20 million
Duration of the expansion project: One year
ISO 9001:2001 certification for quality management awarded in 2002.
A very active EHS policy
Saint-Gobain's Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) policy is based on respect for individuals and their environment-an attitude that goes hand in hand with good business performance. This policy is designed to move the Group as close as possible to its goal of zero workplace accidents, zero occupational illnesses and zero non-recovered waste.
The Covilis plant has applied a consistent approach to develop sustainably, in an environmentally friendly manner. In recognition of this commitment, the plant was certified to ISO 14001 in 2003.
Concerning safety, the plant has deployed programs and action plans to improve working conditions for several years. This type of continuous improvement is made possible by employee involvement and an appropriate organization. Attesting to its policy's effectiveness, the plant has not recorded a single lost time incident in the past seven years. Covilis received OHSAS 18001 certification in 2005 in recognition of its ability to manage workplace health and safety.
The Group the Iberian peninsula
Saint-Gobain has been present in the Iberian peninsula since 1904, when it set up operations in Spain, now home to the Spain, Portugal and Morocco General Delegation. The Group has a solid industrial footprint in the region, with such well-known companies as Saint-Gobain Cristalería, Saint-Gobain Glass Portugal Vidro Plano, La Veneciana, Saint-Gobain PAM España, Saint-Gobain Condutas, Saint-Gobain Placo Ibérica, Saint-Gobain Vicasa, Saint-Gobain Mondego, Saint-Gobain Weber Cemarksa and Saint-Gobain Abrasivos. It also boasts a powerful sales network for prestigious brands like Climalit, Isover, Sekurit, Weber and Norton, and a distribution network for building materials operating under the La Plataforma and Point P banners. The Spain, Portugal and Morocco General Delegation generated sales of more than €2.5 billion in 2008 with 60 plants, 160 sales outlets and 9,000 employees.
Saint-Gobain Solar
Saint-Gobain Solar brings together all of Saint-Gobain's solar applications. With operations spanning the value chain, Saint-Gobain Solar is deploying its strategy in three independent areas:
- The manufacture and sale of special glass, high-performance plastics and other high-technology components for photovoltaic modules and of flat and curved mirrors for solar power plants.
- The production of thin-film photovoltaic modules using copper-indium-selenium (CIS) technology, marketed to distributors and contractors.
- The development and marketing of photovoltaic solutions for residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural buildings.

Source: Saint-Gobain Author: shangyi

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