Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Shell and Saint-Gobain form joint venture to develop next generation solar panel production

Shell Erneuerbare Energien GmbH (’Shell’) and Saint-Gobain Glass Deutschland GmbH, announce their joint venture to begin solar power panel manufacturing based on advanced CIS (copper indium di-selenide) technology. The joint venture was recently approved by the European Commission.

The new entity AVANCIS KG will commence construction of the production facilities with operations likely to commence in 2008 in line with current notification procedure. The initial annual capacity of the plant will be 20 MW with options for rapid expansion. When built, the plant will manufacture solar panels, which when installed would power an equivalent of around 6,000 European households additional per year with clean energy. Generating the same amount of electricity from a coal-fired power plant would release about 14,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Shell and Saint-Gobain believe that non-silicon based solar technologies such as CIS are well positioned to potentially become competitive with conventional sources of electricity. The joint venture will combine Shell’s CIS technology expertise, supported by eight years of CIS marketing experience, with Saint-Gobain’s global and in-depth know-how of glass processing and building material manufacturing.

Graeme Sweeney, Shell’s Executive Vice-President of Renewables, Hydrogen and CO2 said: "Based on our R&D experience in Munich, where the laboratory line delivered record 13.5% efficiency, we believe this facility can achieve industry-leading performance amongst thin-film technologies. The joint venture is part of our continued commitment to alternative energies. Working with Saint-Gobain, our combined experience makes an excellent fit for joint development of this exciting new technology".

Jacques Aschenbroich, Executive Vice-President of Saint-Gobain, Flat Glass Division added: "Shell is an ideal partner for us with its years of experience in the solar power market coupled with our expertise in glass manufacturing. It is envisaged that the first plant will be based at our state-of-the-art production facilities in Torgau, Saxony, which has emerged as the best choice among several other locations we have analysed."

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