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Responding to Climate Change 2011

Home | Spotlight on Energy | AGC Solar Seeing through solar power

Seeing through solar power

AGC Solar

AGC Solar Power on site
AGC Solar, know-how in solar glass
As a key manufacturer for the solar glass industry, AGC Solar – the worldwide solar division of AGC – has contributed to the much-needed growth in solar energy over the last decade. Its motto, “Empowering solar efficiency”, sums up its innovative strength, know-how and technological leadership in clean energy.

The emergence of the solar revolution is a great challenge and great opportunity for the glass industry. As a key player in glass manufacturing, AGC Solar is committed to making sure this revolution happens.

According to the latest World Energy Outlook, the world will use 32% more energy in 2030 than it currently uses. By then, the share of electricity in energy consumption will have grown from less than 18% to over 22%. Its potential, and inherent CO2-free nature, means solar electricity generation will play an ever-more important role.

Over the last decade, the growth of solar power has been significant with 50% average growth in the case of photovoltaics (PV). Europe accounts for 70% of the 23GWp from PV installations; the US and Spain account for almost all of the 1GWe from concentrated solar power (CSP).

In the future, solar power growth will be further characterised by its globalisation. Indeed, its strong cost-down / efficiency-up approach, with increasing interest from China, India, South Africa, Middle East and north African countries, will ensure a more balanced presence worldwide.

In addition, collaborative projects such as the Dii Industrial Initiative will increase worldwide synergies. This initiative, in which AGC collaborates, is based on the Desertec concept, whereby solar power produced in the South would be transported and consumed in the North. Dii is a unique private industry joint venture, launched in July 2009, with the aim of creating the conditions that will accelerate this (

Glass products make the most of solar power

From the glass industry perspective, AGC believes these energetic and environmental challenges can be met by:

  • The development and commercialisation of energy generating glass products;
  • The development and industrialisation of efficient glass manufacturing and processing systems.

Crystalline PV is based on solar cells which transform incoming sunlight into electricity. The glass industry provides high-transmission glass to increase the modules’ energy output. This glass is increasingly supplied with an anti-reflective coating, thereby improving the electricity generated by up to 5%.

Thin-film PV contains solar cells as a thin layer directly deposited onto glass covered with a conductive coating. Besides optimising the composition of the glass itself, the glass industry contributes to cell efficiency by fine-tuning the nature of this coating (via a balance between transmission, conductibility and light trapping properties).

Both crystalline and thin-film PV can be used for residential, commercial (including Building Integrated Photovoltaic or BIPV) and utility scale applications.

In CSP, a set of mirrors concentrates the sunrays onto a central receiver which transforms heat into electricity. It is particularly suitable to generate electricity on the utility scale in areas with high insulation (the so-called Sun Belt). Here, the main objective is to increase solar mirror reflectivity and ensure long-term durability for sometimes harsh environments.

Making glass greener

Each kWh of electricity from solar power reduces greenhouse gases by a factor of at least ten compared to more conventional techniques. And this includes the CO2 generated during the production of the solar modules. As for the glass industry, almost all CO2 emissions originate from the glass melting activity. Today, the amount of energy required to produce one tonne of glass is only 10% of the amount used 100 years ago. Between 2002 and 2009, the CO2 emission per tonne of glass produced by AGC decreased by 22%.

Solar energy is opening up new and challenging perspectives to the glass industry.

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AGC Solar

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