Wednesday, July 24, 2024

US and Canada ramp up photo voltaic glass plans – pv journal International

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From pv journal 05/24

By mid-March 2024, Canada’s Silfab Solar, a high-efficiency module maker with plans to increase in South Carolina, mentioned it will purchase glass from US-based PV panel recycler Solarcycle. Solarcycle plans a $344 million photo voltaic glass fab within the US state of Georgia, powered by recycled panel supplies.

“We are excited in regards to the potential for home photo voltaic manufacturing progress to offer jobs and R&D improvement within the US,” mentioned Solarcycle Chief Operating Officer (COO) Rob Vinje. pv journal.

Global progress

Andries Wantenaar, from the market intelligence firm Rethink Technology Research, mentioned that “the demand for photo voltaic glass seems to be robust. It is a rising market with comparatively secure costs. ” He famous a 66% enhance per share in China’s photo voltaic manufacturing business by 2023, and even quicker progress outdoors of China, the place output has doubled from 65 GW in 2022, to almost 130 GW in 2023.

“If you make photo voltaic glass, you may have a really massive and really fast-growing market outdoors of China to promote to,” Wantenaar mentioned. “You cannot be caught within the state of affairs of Western polysilicon makers, whose prospects are wafer makers in China who now purchase from Chinese polysilicon makers completely at costs properly under the Western marginal value of manufacturing.”

The costs of glass materials are comparatively secure. “The worth of solar-grade glass has been tight for at the least a decade now as a result of it is a absolutely figured-out product,” Wantenaar mentioned. The caveat is that tumbler is an energy-intensive product, which is a robust value issue, and one purpose why China dominates its manufacturing. Wantenaar estimates that China holds “about 90%” of the photo voltaic glass market, which is larger than the 80% share of the PV module.

Two sides

Wantenaar believes that tumbler will signify a bigger a part of module prices sooner or later, as different parts grow to be less expensive and the development a development is to make use of glass on each side slightly than a glass entrance mixed with a polymer backsheet, getting stronger.

“Bifacial has lately handed 50% market share, wanting on the manufacturing output in China, and can proceed to develop, to maybe 75% in 2030,” mentioned the analyst.

Bifacial glass modules normally use two 2 mm glass panes, generally 1.6 mm, versus standard panels, which have 3.2 mm glass. Using thinner glass might require totally different warmth strengthening processes and which will have an effect on high quality.

The development in the direction of glass is one thing that researchers on the US Department of Energy (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are taking a look at, by way of module stability.

“True skinny glass is optimized for transport and logistics, not essentially for sturdiness efficiency within the discipline,” mentioned Teresa Barnes, who directs NREL’s PV reliability and system efficiency group, and serves as head of the DOE. -funded Durable Module Materials (Duramat) analysis consortium.

“Historically, silicon PV modules had been made utilizing rolled and textured cowl glass whereas skinny movie used antimony-free float glass with a thickness of two mm or 3 mm,” Barnes mentioned. “Thinner is feasible nevertheless it’s harder due to the warmth remedy course of.”

It could also be that tumbler materials produced for the North American market has totally different mechanical necessities than different areas.

“Severe climate, similar to hail, might imply that US modules will want thicker tempered glass,” Barnes mentioned.

There are additionally comparable indicators from Europe.

“The development right here is to seek out niches,” mentioned Martin Zugg, managing director of German glass producer Interfloat, which is owned by India’s Borosil. “Finding a distinct segment is tough however we see producers growing increasingly new area of interest markets, which embody frost-resistant panels that require thicker glass, modules which are built-in rooftop, and building-integrated PV functions.”

Interfloat produces sufficient low-iron, high-transmission textured photo voltaic glass for two GW of modules per 12 months. It produces glass with a thickness from 2 mm to six mm, in customary in addition to customized and particular request dimensions.

The use of thicker glass can present native glass producers with market alternatives and decrease prices related to transportation.

“Glass is an costly materials to ship,” mentioned NREL’s Barnes. “Logistics, transport, and storage prices are all paid by the PV module producer.”

First photo voltaic impact

US-based thin-film PV big First Solar is increasing capability with 13 GW of operational output as of September 2023, and plans for 25 GW of world annual nameplate capability by 2026, with 14 GW within the United States .

That growth trajectory has spurred funding within the glass business to offer it with the float glass it wants for its thin-film modules. In the United States, producers NSG Group and Vitro Architectural Glass introduced contracts and plans for devoted strains to serve First Solar.

In India, the place First Solar lately inaugurated a 3.3 GW Series 7 module plant, French supplies firm Saint Gobain has reportedly introduced manufacturing on-line at a plant within the state of Tamil Nadu to produce American manufacturing facility.

In November 2023, NSG mentioned it will add clear conductive oxide (TCO)-coated glass capability in Ohio to produce First Solar, which plans to function in early 2025. NSG produces TCO-coated glass for thin-film PV for over 25 years.

“Every 12 months the photo voltaic market is larger and larger; extra capital, extra assets,” mentioned Stephen Weidner, who heads NSG’s North American architectural glass and photo voltaic merchandise group. “We see it everywhere in the world.”

Glass for photo voltaic is turning into extra vital. “It’s gone from barely 10 years in the past, to 10% to fifteen% of the overall provide of the flat glass market in North America,” Weidner mentioned. “Our purpose is to develop with the market. That means on the finish of [2024] now we have three float strains in North America devoted to the photo voltaic aspect, one other line in Vietnam, additionally one in Malaysia, which we transformed to TCO from architectural glass earlier than.

Vitro Architectural Glass additionally will increase US capability to produce First Solar. In October 2023, it introduced the extension of its contract with First Solar and a plan to spend money on a plant in Pennsylvania, in addition to to adapt PV glass amenities. The firm mentioned in a press release that it expects “important progress” within the photo voltaic glass enterprise as a result of “imminent” impression on the United States.

Effect on IRAs

In addition to influencing First Solar and the rising glass provide chain, insurance policies such because the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), additionally spurred funding in crystalline silicon manufacturing, prompting Canadian Premium Sand (CPS), a brand new entrant from Canada, to announce a photo voltaic panel. glass mission. CPS plans to construct a manufacturing facility in Selkirk, Manitoba, to provide 1.8 mm to 4 mm glass modules containing sufficient quantity for six GW of photo voltaic panels yearly.

“We estimate the demand within the North American area for photo voltaic patterned glass to achieve practically 100 GW by 2030, pushed by the transformation of the US photo voltaic panel provide chain,” mentioned Anshul Vishal, who leads the CPS company improvement.

The enterprise has introduced offtake agreements with the likes of Swiss module producer Meyer Burger, Canada-based Heliene, and Qcells, which is owned by South Korea’s Hanwha. Further offtake discussions with different potential patterned photo voltaic glass prospects are underway, based on Vishal, with plans to achieve 100% contract standing previous to building.

The CPS built-in glass mission requires a CAD 880 million ($639 million) funding to arrange the plant and develop a silica sand web site. The plan contains a number of strains of tempered and patterned photo voltaic glass, together with anti-reflective and anti-soiling coating strains, which shall be on-line by 2026.

“This is a mission endorsed by provincial and federal authorities businesses and the environmental permits are in place,” Vishal mentioned. “We lately examined the sand materials in Europe, proving that we are able to use easy, inexpensive, and environmentally accountable processes to refine it to plain photo voltaic glass grade specs.”

CPS can faucet Manitoba’s vitality combine for low CO2-emission hydroelectricity and wind energy. Being within the North American Free Trade Agreement zone at a web site three to 4 land days from prospects — supporting easier transport and fewer potential disruption — are different location-related benefits, based on mentioned Vishal.

A consortium was contracted to construct the CPS plant. These embody Henry F. Teichmann, a global glass plant contractor primarily based within the United States; France-based industrial engineering firm Fives Group; Italian glassmaking tools provider Bottero; and two Canadian companies, Elrus Aggregate Systems, a mineral processing tools supplier; and PCL Constructors, a civil engineering agency.

Recycled glass

Like CPS, the plant deliberate for the two-year Solarcycle has an annual capability with a module equal to five GW to six GW of technology capability – however utilizing recycled glass. The use of recycled supplies obtained from end-of-life crystalline silicon panels signifies that the obtained glass has the right chemical composition. It is already a low-iron materials, as seen in Solarcycle’s Vinje, and that reduces vitality demand and comprises carbon.

“This is the primary low iron rolled glass plant to be constructed within the US market,” mentioned the COO. “We are at the moment receiving affords from worldwide suppliers of glass processing tools whereas contracts for engineering, building, and several other subsystems are being negotiated with US-based suppliers.”

In the works is an 800-meter-long patterned glass manufacturing line with cold and hot processing components. It features a specifically designed cross-fired regenerative furnace building that reuses exhaust gases to cut back gas consumption; scorching rolled processing tools; and the slicing, grinding, glass curing, and different chilly ending course of steps required to provide glass for dual- and single-glass modules.

Solarcycle shouldn’t be the one glass provider seeking to profit from using recycled materials. Canada’s CPS additionally mentioned it plans to make use of recycled glass cullet from outdoors sources in its merchandise whereas the likes of Japan’s AGC and Saint Gobain have additionally introduced tasks.

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